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Capital Area District Libraries go fine free

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 17:05:24-04

LANSING, Mich. — Capital Area District Libraries are going fine free, a move aimed at reducing barriers to using local libraries.

“By eliminating one of the barriers to library service, this policy helps align us with one of our core values-- free and open access to recorded knowledge, information and creative works,” CADL wrote in a press release. “Eliminating fines also allows CADL staff to dedicate more time to positive services for our members.”

The library system announced that daily fines will no longer be charged on overdue items on July 13. CADL joins a growing list of 44 libraries across the state to get rid of fines.

The push to eliminate fines came from our research in decreasing barriers of access to our libraries," said CADL Executive Director Scott Duimstra. "There were about 13,000 of members who had $10 or more in fines, which blocked them from checking out materials. When we match this information with the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, we saw a strong correlation between library access being denied to those who needed it most. Along with this, we found better ways to get items back on time that doesn’t turn library access into a service for who can afford to pay their fines and, in turn, pushing out those who can’t."

According to CADL, late fines don’t actually have a major impact on encouraging people to get their borrowed items back on time. Instead, they said, fine policies can be pricey to enforce.

"The revenue we received from fines was about 1% of our operating revenue. As an organization, we felt strongly enough about going fine free that we reduced our expenses to cover the small loss in revenue," Duimstra said.

There will still be due dates and library patrons will still be expected to return borrowed items on time. If an item is more than 10 days overdue the account holder will be blocked from any new checkouts, renewals and holds until it is returned.

Separate charges for damaged or permanently lost items will still be assessed.

"What we hope to see is that people who stopped using the library due to fines will begin using the library again. We also hope that, by going fine free, there will be a positive feeling of checking out items from the library and not a fear of incurring fines. Using the library should be a positive experience for everyone in our communities," Duimstra said.

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