North Liberty Public Library to eliminate fines for overdue materials

Photo courtesy of the North Liberty Library’s Facebook page

The North Liberty Library announced earlier this week it will eliminate overdue fines and forgive outstanding fines in an effort to make the library more accessible.

Around 500 public libraries across the country have gotten rid of their fines, including Iowa libraries in West Liberty, West Branch and Ely. Iowa City Public Library eliminated fines for children’s and young adult materials last year.

And the Metro Library Network — which includes the public libraries in Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha and Marion — announced in December they are eliminating fines for overdue materials in July.

“We’re here for service to the community, and we can’t justify any more this policy that’s existed practically since the beginning of the public library in the 1800s that nobody has ever really looked into to see if it actually does what it’s supposed to do,” Cedar Rapids Public Library director Dara Schmidt told Little Village in December.

In the past, the North Liberty Library has allowed patrons the option to donate food instead of paying fines, but eliminating fines will allow the library to “provide truly free, equal and equitable access to information to all of our patrons,” according to a news release.

The change is expected to take effect on March 23. Individuals with outstanding fines have a clean slate.

Materials will still have due dates, and patrons will still be responsible for paying if items are lost. If lost items are not paid for or overdue materials are not returned, the individual will be prevented from further checkouts until the issue is resolved.

In addition to eliminating fines, the library will adjust its hours starting March 23, opening at 8 a.m. every day, Monday through Friday. (Currently, they open at 9 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.) Hours on Saturday and Sunday will stay the same, with the library open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays.