May 24, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer
Here's the latest news on the long-anticipated reopening of the Hingham Public Library and the concurrent elimination of overdue fines.
In response to Gov. Charlie Baker's recent announcement that most COVID-related restrictions will be lifted in Massachusetts on May 29 rather than the anticipated Aug. 1, the town library will reopen to the public beginning Tuesday June 1 -- Monday through Thursday and also on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with no capacity or time-limit restrictions. Evening hours will resume Monday, June 14.
"In-person library programs and public meetings will resume Tuesday, Sept. 7," Library Director Linda Harper told the Hingham Anchor. "Our summer programs will continue virtually (online) as planned."
Children's programming will remain virtual for the summer," said Asst. Library Director Anna Byrne. "We have a lot of really fun things planned, and hopefully kids will be able to join digitally."
While the library transitions back to its regular service and hours, all patrons are asked to abide by the following recommended guidelines while visiting the library:
- Wear a face mask indoors
- Limit the amount of time spent in the building
- Wash and/or sanitize hands frequently
- Use self-service holds and self-checkout systems
"We’re also pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has voted to eliminate the charging of overdue fines on library materials," Harper said. "For the past few years, as more and more libraries across the nation have been going fine-free, the benefits of being a library 'Free for All' have become apparent through the increased accessibility to library materials and collections created by the removal of these economic barriers that disproportionately affected those least able to afford them."
Hingham Public Library now joins with a growing number of libraries -- locally as well as the Boston Public Library -- that no longer charge fees on overdue books, movies, and music (meaning no fines for materials that are overdue and returned late), although patrons will still be responsible for paying a replacement fee for lost or damaged library materials. Items not returned by 60 days from the due date will be considered lost and billed accordingly.
Patrons are asked to be mindful of due dates and to return items on time if they cannot be renewed since others might be waiting for their turn.
"We have missed our patrons and look forward to welcoming them back to the Library," Harper said. "We appreciate everyone's patience and support through these very challenging times."