PRESS RELEASE: Two Cedar Valley Libraries go Fine Free!
The Cedar Falls and Waterloo Public Libraries are turning the page on the long-held practice of charging fines for overdue library materials. On January 1, 2020, both libraries will eliminate overdue fines on most library materials and stop collecting previously accrued overdue fines.. “We understand that life happens,” states Cedar Falls Director Kelly Stern, “and that it can be difficult sometimes to return items on time to the library. We also recognize that assessing monetary fines is not the most effective way to manage borrowing periods, nor is it fair to patrons with limited incomes.”
The Cedar Falls and Waterloo Public Libraries are committed to providing equal access to every member of our community and eliminating fines offers our cardholders a fresh start to rediscover all that their library has to offer. By eliminating most fines, the library is removing barriers and making access easy, equitable and enjoyable for everyone. Existing fines for overdue items will be forgiven ensure that everyone can start a new chapter at their now fine-free libraries. Fees for lost or damaged items will remain on the users account.
So how does it work?
Under the new policy, patrons at both libraries are still encouraged to return their materials on time, with each library’s borrowing policy defining what constitutes an item as overdue. As incentive, patrons with overdue items will be blocked from checking out further items until the overdue material is renewed or returned. “These fine free policies will reduce barriers to access, while also including measures to protect library materials,” says Waterloo Director Nick Rossman. “Going fine free will have such an impact on our youngest borrowers as we currently have 30% of our patrons under the age of 18 unable to use the library because of fines. It’s so important that our youngest card holders have access and take full advantage of their library.”
Both directors recognize and endorse the trend in American libraries to go fine free. “This move is a win for everyone,” says Stern. “Current fine-free libraries report increased visits and circulation as well as an increase in the return of long-overdue material. And, it’s the right thing to do!”
Details for Cedar Falls Public Library:
The American Library Association promotes removing barriers to access to information and library services, especially overdue fines. The Cedar Falls Public Library staff, Trustees, and Friends of the Library endorse this position, so beginning January 1, 2020, the library will be fine-free for most library materials.
Important details for CFPL library cardholders:
- Checkout periods will remain the same, but once a patron has an item overdue, they may not borrow more materials until the overdue item is renewed or returned.
- Overdue fines accrued before January 1, 2020 will be waived.
- Patrons will still be charged for lost and damaged items. Charges for past lost and damaged items will remain on patrons’ accounts.
- The only materials that will still carry overdue fines are a few high-demand, non-traditional items: tech items and musical instruments in our Library of Things.
- All other materials will be fine-free!
Worried about others keeping items for too long? Libraries that have already gone fine free report that patrons return more items and return them sooner than they did when late fees were assessed. We trust that our library patrons understand that others may be waiting for materials and that they will be considerate of others by returning or renewing materials in a timely manner.
We welcome back patrons who have not returned to the library because of their overdue fines. New Year, fresh start!