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  1. News

Another reason to love the library: No more fees for overdue books!

The John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

TAMPA — Here's an early Christmas present for you literary scofflaws who tend to hang on to those borrowed best sellers a little too long:

As of Jan. 1, 2018, the Hillsborough County Public Library system will no longer charge late fines on overdue materials.

(Sorry, you'll still owe any fines incurred before the new year.)

The new policy extends the grace period from seven to eight days. After that, a borrower won't be allowed to check out any more materials or use the library's Overdrive, Hoopla, Freading RB Digital or services.

But once the item is returned, the current late fees of 20 cents a day and a maximum of $5 per item won't be owed.

More good news for library fans: A borrowed book will now be automatically renewed as long as no one else is waiting for it.

Director of library services Andrew Breidenbaugh says although Hillsborough takes in about $285,000 in fines a year, it cost more in staff time and processing to charge those overdue fees.

But the biggest reason for the change — which has also happened in Salt Lake City, Columbus and Nashville — is philosophical: Access to all that's available at your public library "is more important than those fines."

Literary procrastinators, celebrate.