Beginning January 2, 2021, the Kenton County Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines on most items. This comes months after a successful amnesty program in which the library saw the return of many items considered lost as well as significant supportive comments from the public.
Dave Schroeder, the Library’s Executive Director states, “Libraries across the nation are beginning to go fine free. They have found that not only are they seeing long lost items, but more importantly, people who may have not been using the library because of fines on their accounts have been returning.”
Major library systems including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Salt Lake City have gone fine free. They have reported that fines don’t necessarily encourage people to return items on time but they do prevent people from using a very valuable community resource.
In 2019, the American Library Association, the oldest and largest library association in the world, passed a resolution stating that monetary fines “creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services” and “urges libraries to scrutinize their practices of imposing fines on library patrons and actively move towards eliminating them.”
“The Library Board of Trustees has been researching and discussing the idea of going fine free for a while but results from the fine amnesty month in 2019, compiled with the fact that we started forgiving fines during the pandemic made that decision clear.” states Schroeder.
During the Library’s amnesty month, 768 lost items were returned – nearly double what was expected. Re-engagement of inactive and occasional users during this time also significantly increased.
A survey was sent to library patrons following amnesty month. “Many comments were received via the survey and through staff,” says Schroeder, “But this one sums it up: “I had enough fines that they were keeping me from showing my face in the library. It was wonderful to be able to start over and be able to check out books again. Without feeling guilty. Thank you for forgiving fines.”
Going fine free does not mean items can be kept out indefinitely. After 60 days being overdue, the item will be considered lost and the patron will be charged for it. For more information about the fine free announcement, apply for a library card or place items on hold visit kentonlibrary.org or call (859) 962-4000.