The Ida Rupp Public Library has changed the library’s policies to eliminate fines for overdue library materials, reported the Board of Trustees, favoring a decision to erase barriers to library use.
A growing number of libraries in Northwest Ohio have already gone “Fine Free,” including Oak Harbor, Harris-Elmore, Birchard (Fremont), and Sandusky.
“The mission of Ida Rupp Public Library is to facilitate free access to materials and services to support the diverse educational, informational, and entertainment needs of our community,” said Director Lindsay Faust, Director. “Fines tend to keep people away from the library because they are embarrassed at having fines or because they are unable to pay.
“This change breaks those barriers to access and encourages people to use and return to the library.”
“We carefully researched and discussed the “Fine Free” policy before approval,” said Jan Beck, Fiscal Officer/Marketing Manager. “Initial concerns about potential loss of revenue were alleviated after analysis demonstrated that fine revenue made up less than 0.18% of library revenue.”
The tradition of charging fines was a way to ensure that materials were returned on a timely basis so that other patrons could borrow and enjoy them. However, this practice also discourages patrons from using the library so they can avoid potential financial consequences. Fines are viewed as punitive by many active patrons and disproportionately affect lower income households.
Any fines a patron previously had from overdue materials have been removed from their accounts. Under the new policy, the due dates or loan periods for materials have not changed. Any items borrowed for longer than the maximum loan period will be considered overdue.
If a borrower has three or more overdue items, they will be prohibited from checking out additional library material until the overdue items have been returned. When an item is overdue for 30 days, the item will be marked lost and borrowers will be billed for the item. If the item is returned, the bill for the item will be removed from users’ accounts.
Due to high demand, hotspots will still accrue a $2 per day late fee. Any damaged items will incur a replacement fee.
The Ida Rupp libraries are located at 310 Madison St., Port Clinton; Marblehead Peninsula Branch, 710 W. Main St., Marblehead; and Erie Islands Library, 281 Concord, Put-in-Bay.