Killeen residents avoiding the library because of overdue books or fines will be given a second chance, as the city has declared a library amnesty period for the month of April.
Patrons with overdue materials can clear their names without fees by returning books in person to the downtown Killeen Public Library or the Copper Mountain Branch Library with one nonperishable food or pet food item.
Deanna Frazee, director of the Killeen library system, said this is the first time the city has held a library amnesty in at least seven years and it has no plans for another anytime soon.
Each year library materials worth $16,000 are lost because of library violations, Frazee said. Around 30 people do not return an item each month.
Violators can receive a class C misdemeanor for not returning books or paying overdue fees on time.
“We don’t want people to go that far,” Frazee said. “We want our materials back so that we can share them with other people.”
In addition to overdue book fees, which can reach hundreds of dollars, patrons must pay $30 to the Municipal Court if a bench warrant has been issued on their library account, and that court fee cannot be nullified by the amnesty, Frazee said.
Overdue fees can be cleared first at either library branch and then by paying the $30 court fee at the Municipal Court on Avenue D in downtown Killeen.
“This is probably the best option they’ve got to not have to pay those huge fines,” Frazee said. “Thirty dollars is a lot better than $300.”
The amnesty is also available for fines incurred from previously returned items with overdue fees pending, but not for lost or damaged items.
“Our hope is that we can clear up some of our records, get our books back and get some people out of the court system,” Frazee said. “That’s one less charge that the courts will have to deal with.”