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The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) has restarted a standard bit of librarying that hasn’t happened in eight years: mailing out fine notices to patrons with overdue books and materials. The DCPL had not sent the notices since 1998, when it halted the practice due to budget cuts. But beginning May 1, library patrons will receive a reminder 10 days after the due-back date that they have items that need to be returned.

Offenders won’t be able to pay fines by mail or credit card; they’ll still have to clear their records in person. And the DCPL still has no plans to implement one revenue-generating scheme employed by more than 700 library systems around the country: referring delinquent patrons to a collection agency.

But, coupled with a new fine structure an increased replacement fees for lost or destroyed books, the new policy stands to improve a fine system that collected less than $100,000 last fiscal year, well below the DCPL’s peer systems (“A Fine Excuse,” 2/17).

“The emphasis is still on you checking out books and materials from the public library so you can enjoy and learn from them,” says DCPL spokesperson Monica Lewis. “But remember there are other people that want to also read that book or watch that DVD or listen to that CD, so be prompt in bringing those materials back or renew them.”