North Liberty Library latest to go fine-free

Caroline Allen, assistant youth and teen services librarian at the North Liberty Library, hands out a snack at the libra
Caroline Allen, assistant youth and teen services librarian at the North Liberty Library, hands out a snack at the library on Oct. 30, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

NORTH LIBERTY — The North Liberty Library is the latest in the area and across the country to drop fines for its patrons.

The city announced Monday the library will eliminate fines beginning March 23. The library, which has offered the option of making a food donation in lieu of a fine and offered overdue amnesty dates, said going fine-free will make the library more accessible to patrons.

“We understand that occasionally people run into hurdles that may cause them to have late library materials, and we don’t want that to be a burden to accessing the library’s services,” Jennie Garner, library director, said in a statement. “When fines aren’t used to manage borrowing of library materials, patrons tend to return their materials more regularly and feel comfortable using the library again, sometimes after years of not being able to check out items due to fines on their accounts.”

Under the new rules, materials still will have due dates, and patrons will be encouraged to return those items in a timely manner. Patrons with lost or overdue items will not be able to check out additional materials until the overdue items have been returned. Patrons who lost items will have to pay to replace them.

All current fines are being forgiven, the library said.

After the Chicago Public Library went fine-free, library use surged 240 percent, according to the North Liberty news release.

The Iowa City Public Library eliminated fines for children and young adults last June. In Linn County, the Metro Library Network — consisting of the Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha public libraries — will go fine-free beginning July 1.

The North Liberty Library also announced it will offer early-access self-service hours on weekdays beginning at 8 a.m. From 8 to 9 a.m., patrons will be able to browse, return items, pick up holds and use self-check, the library said. Other library amenities — such as computers, printing and copying services, and meeting rooms — also will be available.

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