PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Pittsfield’s public library will no longer be charging late fees.

The Berkshire Athenaeum has announced they are now fine free and will not charge for the late return of library materials. Patrons who return damaged items or fail to return items still must pay the cost of repair or replacement.

The library is following a growing national trend to end fines. American Library Association says that many libraries across the country have found that going fine-free helps erase barriers to library use, and further research shows that fines do not guarantee library materials are returned.

“Our Trustees have given time, thoughtful discussion, and careful analysis to taking this impactful step,” said Athenaeum Library Director Alex Reczkowski. “Library staff are aware there are Pittsfielders who have stopped visiting the library out of fear they owe fines or may accrue fines if they return something a day or two late. Fines were counter to the overall purpose and vision of our library. We want this clean slate to be a new beginning and a gesture of welcome to those who haven’t visited us in some time.”

Currently, 126 libraries that are members of CWMARS, the consortium of 157 central and western Massachusetts libraries including the Berkshire Athenaeum, are now fine free.

More information can be found on the Berkshire Athenaeum website.