MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. — Starting Wednesday, both the Bloomington Public Library (BPL) and Normal Public Library (NPL) are done charging overdue fines.
This announcement came from each library’s board of trustees and said all overdue fines are forgiven. The American Library Association called fines a “form of social inequity” and told libraries to get rid of them in 2019.
They suggested fines could be deterring patrons from getting a library card or checking out items. BPL Director Jeanne Hamilton said she agrees with the sentiment.
“Rather than teaching responsibility or motivating borrowers to return items on time, it has been found that fines act as an inequitable barrier to service, and they disproportionately impact those with limited financial resources,” Hamilton said. “The libraries hope that eliminating overdue fines will encourage prior users to return while attracting new users to experience all the libraries have to offer.”
The removal of fines is not likely to bring a significant change to the library’s budget as less than one percent of each library’s annual revenue comes from overdue fines. The NPL is also eliminating its fees for DVD rentals, which are fees BPL never charged for.
The libraries are beginning to use an automatic renewal system for eligible items. This system can renew the items up to three times. The libraries will still be charging replacement fees for items that are more than 28 days past its final due date and those will be considered “lost”.
This article was written by intern Damon Breitbarth.
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