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Monday, September 9, 2019

Westminster Public Library goes fine free

Westminster Public Library goes fine free

On Sept. 9, Westminster Public Library eliminated fines for overdue materials. We are joining a growing number of library systems that realize late fines prevent the people who need us most from checking out materials.

This doesn’t mean that you can keep your items forever. After 21 days the items will be set to lost. We will still be charging for lost and damaged items as well as the debt collection fee. 

We know you have questions. Here are answers:

  • Why did you eliminate fines?
    Surprisingly, fines don’t work the way you might think they do. Paying fines for overdue materials doesn’t stop people from keeping their items past the due date. It does prevent people who need libraries the most from checking items out, such as families and people struggling financially.
  • Does this mean I don’t have to bring my books back?
    No, we will still charge for library materials that aren’t returned or are damaged. When an item is 28 days overdue it will automatically be set to "lost." If the item isn’t returned or paid for within three weeks after being set to lost, the account will be referred to our debt collection agency and an additional fee will be added to the account.
  • Will this increase the time I have to wait for a new book I have on hold?
    Most libraries that have eliminated overdue fines have had no indication of hold times increasing. As one library director put it, “Prior to going fine free those who could afford it were willing to just pay the fine. More people now say, ‘I’ll return my book on time so others can have it.” WPL will keep an eye on this and if we get different results we’ll look at options to help solve long wait times.
  • Won’t the library lose money?
    Revenue from fines is a very small percentage of our budget. We believe this move will bring patrons back, bring in new patrons, and improve good will and outweighs any financial loss.
  • Shouldn’t you be teaching kids responsibility?
    We believe in all the years we’ve charged patrons for late materials, no one has become more responsible because of those fines. In fact, if you look at the question about holds, you’ll see not having fines encourages patrons to think of others.
  • I feel guilty when I return an item late. What if I want to still pay fines?
    You’re in luck. We will have a donation box available at both of our locations. If you really want to give us money, we’ll take it!
  • What if I have old fines with Westminster Public Library?
    They will still show up on your account. Contact the circulation department and we'll be happy to waive them for you. This doesn’t apply to lost or damaged materials or to the fee if you were sent to debt collection. You will still be responsible for those fees.

For more information, visit library's website, or call the circulation department at 303-658-2601.

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