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Lawton Library Reducing Fines to Get Books Back

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LAWTON Okla_ Nearly 13,000 people currently have overdue books or owe fines to the Lawton Public Library. With the library's current budget crunches, directors say there's no time like the present to settle up.

To motivate people to pay up, they're going to reduce those fines by 50 percent, but that's a limited time offer. Anyone who has fines that were charged before Nov. 1 can come in starting Dec. 2 and take advantage of this offer. The library hopes with enough fines paid off, they can work toward a better future for their shelves and their readers.

"This is kind of like a homecoming for our books," Library Director Kristin Herr said. "Let's bring our books home."

For the Lawton Public Library, books aren't just literature; they're all opportunities for everyday people to experience new worlds right at home.

"Chances are if you took the book and it's at your house, somebody else wants it," Herr said.

That's the problem circulation has experienced for several years now. Books that go unreturned get replaced, which doesn't do the library any favors.

"It's a lot of paperwork. It's a lot of staff time. It just costs the city more money," Herr said.

Restocking smaller shelves with overdue books means less replacing the library has to do. That can have a big impact on their small budget. So, officials are slashing fines by 50 percent in order to bring those books home.

"The library is trying to show a little Christmas spirit with the event," Herr said. "With 6,500 people having $25 or more on their accounts, that's a large amount of people that we need to get taken care of."

Don't think the library will be seeing more cash immediately. Officials say that money collected goes back to city funds that ultimately decide how much the library could receive in the future. So, why does the library want these fines paid?

"We want to get these accounts up to date and to where these people can come back in the library," Circulation Manager Kathy Hines said. "It's a service of the City of Lawton, and we want to encourage them to come into the library. It's a free service, and they should utilize it."

Again, the amnesty period starts Dec. 2. If you've got fines or you have overdue books, you've got until Feb. 15 to get them returned and paid for. After that, the Lawton Public Library will turn everything over to a collection agency, and that could even affect your credit score. Payments and book returns can be made anytime at either the main library on 4th Street or its branch on Kingswood road.

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