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Greenfield Library may be more forgiving when items return damaged

May 14, 2013

Greenfield — The game of hot potato that Greenfield library patrons play when they borrow popular items that fall apart just after they check them out might be over.

The Library Board is expected on Thursday to approve a proposal to stop charging patrons for damaged library items if the damage came from normal wear and tear.

The change was unanimously recommended by the board's Legislative and Policy Committee. It would apply to everything from books to DVDs and CDs, said Sheila O'Brien, library director.

The main motivation is that popular materials that are read or viewed many times are going to have problems eventually and it can be hard to determine when an item was damaged, O'Brien said.

"We always want to be reasonable and fair," she said.

But the new policy would only apply to Greenfield Public Library materials. If a book or video or CD is requested from another library, the policy of that library will rule, she said.

The kinds of damage the library has seen in books are spines letting go, allowing pages to flutter out, or the covers of paperbacks curling, she said.

DVDs and CDs can crack if people don't take them out of the covers properly — and that's not surprising because there are so many different ways discs are held within their covers, O'Brien said.

Also, players can scratch the disc surfaces, she said, but the library has a polisher to restore the discs, she said.

Tapes, both VHS and audio, get snagged or twisted or come lose from the spool, she said — another natural consequence from normal usage.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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