Fox River Valley Public Library District waives goodbye to overdue fines
Starting on Jan. 1, patrons of the Fox River Valley Public Library District will no longer be charged fines for materials that are returned late.
In addition, existing overdue fines will be waived from all patron accounts.
All materials will still have due dates and auto-renewals will continue as they do now. With the new policy, at 14 days after the due date, materials not returned or renewed are marked as long overdue.
Until those materials are returned, that person will be unable to check out anything else. At 45 days, items will be marked as lost and the patron's account will be billed for replacement.
There are a few exceptions to the new policy. Due to the higher cost of replacement, Wi-Fi hot spots, laptops, and kits such as American Girl Dolls, Early Learning, and STEAM kits will still accrue overdue fines if they are returned late.
It's a common misconception that all libraries rely on fines for funding. At the Fox River Valley Public Library District, overdue fines represent a tiny fraction of the annual budget -- it's actually less than 1% (0.55%) of revenue.
The fine free policy is a national trend among libraries. Studies have shown that the implementation of late fees on overdue materials does not actively encourage patrons to return materials on time. Instead, these fees act as a barrier for some patrons and their families from continuing to visit our libraries altogether. Results of a survey issued by the district in June showed that 78% of local residents were in favor of eliminating late fines.
Of the 10,321 patrons who have overdue fines on their accounts, 3,633 of those are blocked from checking out materials because they owe more than $10. Of those blocked, 940 are patrons under 18 years of age. On Jan. 1, patrons will have all overdue fines waived from their account. The library is looking forward to welcoming back those patrons who have been blocked from service, and will issue updated library cards to those whose cards have expired.
"We want patrons to feel comfortable checking out materials at our libraries without the fear of accruing fees. The library's mission statement is to provide equal opportunity for all to learn, explore, imagine, create, and connect in a welcoming environment and the existence of overdue fines prevents that from being a universal truth for all our patrons. Our hope is that the removal of fines makes the library a more positive space and allows us to focus on serving the public in a more productive way," said Richard Corbett, library board president.
Patrons who have questions about the status of their account can call the library at (847) 428-3661, send an email to email@example.com, or visit any service desk in person.
The district serves 70,000 residents of Carpentersville, East Dundee, West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow, Gilberts, and parts of Algonquin.