Posted December 12, 2019
The beginning of the new decade will bring a few changes to the Berks County Public Libraries borrowing policy. Notable changes include expanding borrowing access to all Pennsylvania residents and a one-year pilot program removing fines from all teen and YA books. More information about these changes can be found below.
On November 20, 2019, the Board of Trustees approved an update to the Berks County Public Libraries borrowing policy. The new policy will go into effect on January 1, 2020, and will guarantee any person who lives in the state of Pennsylvania access to physical materials from any Berks County Public Library. As a result of the update, current out-of-county residents who use a Berks County Public Libraries card may see some changes to their digital services.
Who does this affect?
The changes to the borrowing policy will provide Pennsylvania residents with access to physical materials from system libraries. If you have a current Berks County Public Libraries card and live outside of Berks County, some services may no longer be accessible. If you live outside of Berks County but work or go to school within the county, you will be eligible to receive full card services. You may need to provide proof of your current work location or school status to switch your card to a full-service card. There is no charge for any necessary card changes related to the new borrowing policy.
I work/go to school in Berks County. How do I get a full-service card?
You will need to bring proof of your current place of employment or school to reactivate your card to a full-service library card. This could include a pay stub with your work location's address or a student ID. If you have a question about another form of verification, please reach out to your registered library.
Why change the borrowing policy?
Nearly 9% of current Berks County library patrons live outside of the county. The previous policy restricted who could receive free access, so we’re expanding borrowing privileges to all Pennsylvania residents for physical materials, ensuring our resources are freely accessible by more people. This change is a step beyond the current Statewide Library Card Program which allows eligible residents to register for a free library card at any participating public library. Patron eligibility in the program is determined by whether your municipality does or does not support state-public library services. The update to the Berks County Public Libraries borrowing policy ensures every Pennsylvania resident has access. The borrowing policy can be viewed here.
Fine Free Pilot Program
Berks County Public Libraries will launch a new, one-year pilot program on January 1, 2020, that will make all teen and YA books fine free (YA audiovisual materials will still incur fines). Any teen or YA book checked out in 2020 will not be charged fines for late returns. Overdue fines are charged as an incentive to return materials promptly; however, the accumulation of fines creates a significant barrier to access for those patrons who are most in need of library services.
In an effort to remove these roadblocks to access, the system member libraries agreed to remove fines from teen/YA books checked out in 2020. The pilot will serve as a test period to determine the feasibility of permanently removing fines from teen/YA materials. Fines before January 1, 2020 will still exist. Fees still apply to damaged or lost items. Juvenile materials will continue to be fine free through and after the conclusion of the pilot.