Des Plaines Public Library eliminates late fees, joining other suburban facilities

Updated 6/1/2021 1:45 PM

It's been one month since the Des Plaines Public Library eliminated fines for overdue books, DVDs and other items -- and officials are calling the trendy change a success.

"It's been (a) quiet and drama-free rollout," library spokeswoman Heather Imhoff said. "We have had no problems or out-of-the-ordinary complaints."


The library, at 1501 Ellinwood St., stopped assessing late fees May 1. Instead, patrons with items that are at least 14 days overdue are unable to check out additional materials or access digital collections or databases until they're returned.

Items that are overdue for 45 days or more will be considered lost, and the customer who last checked out the item will be charged a replacement fee.

Once lost items are returned or paid for, a patron's access to services will resume.

Officials erased about $1,800 in outstanding late fees, too.

Library officials said they changed the policy because the threat of charges stops some people from visiting libraries.

The cash from fines also was "negligible financially," Imhoff said. About $4,000 in fines were assessed in 2020, a fraction of 1% of the facility's annual revenue estimate of roughly $6.4 million, she said.

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Eliminating fines is a growing national trend in the library business. In the Chicago area, libraries in Arlington Heights, Palatine, Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Mundelein, Lincolnshire and Algonquin are among those that have gone fine-free.

"Not going fine free was not really an option," Imhoff said.

Des Plaines library officials actually had begun discussing eliminating fines before the COVID-19 pandemic struck but put the change on hold until operations "returned to a more normal state," Imhoff said.

For more information about the new policy, visit

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