Ela library eliminates overdue fines

  • The Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich will no longer charge late fees for overdue materials.

    The Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich will no longer charge late fees for overdue materials. Courtesy of Dianne Rose

 
Submitted by Valerie Stern
Updated 9/21/2015 4:14 PM

Thanks to a new policy officially enacted in September, overdue fines are a thing of the past at Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich.

"We want to encourage more Library use, not discourage it," Executive Director Matt Womack said. "There are better ways of encouraging people to return items on time than threaten them with financial penalties."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new policy came about from listening to library users. Fines often work as a barrier and keep users away.

According to Womack, "Even the most enthusiastic Library supporters have a strong dislike for fines. We listened and there are no more late fees."

It is a common misconception that all libraries rely on overdue fines to operate. Womack acknowledges this isn't the case for every library.

"We are fortunate. Overall, late fees contribute about 1 percent of Ela Library's operating revenue. This revenue isn't critical to our operation," Womack said. "Late fees have long been used as a means of encouraging users to return materials. Creating financial barriers to using the library is counterproductive."

How will the library get materials back? All items still have due dates and borrowers are expected to return or renew by that date. Coming-due reminders are sent. The library also has several ways borrowers can renew and manage their account at any time. If materials are over 14 days late, library users can't borrow more until they return what they have.

"We think this change gives you an even better experience when you visit. We want people to come in and use us," Womack said.

For more information about the Library and its services, visit www.eapl.org.

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