In its strive to remove barriers to services for the community, Beloit Public Library (BPL) has eliminated fines on all youth and young adult materials. This announcement kicks off National Library Week, which is April 4-10.

Beginning immediately, no overdue fines will accrue on any materials cataloged as youth or young adult (otherwise known as teen), regardless of who checks them out. The policy is based on the type of item and not the age of the borrower.

This policy change includes picture books, board books, easy readers, chapter books, audiobooks, magazines, movies, and music. In addition to eliminating fines for these materials, BPL has erased existing fines for youth and young adults.

“Beloit Public Library continues to be the community’s leader in early literacy efforts,” said BPL Director Nick Dimassis. “This is one more way we are putting students and their families first. For those for whom even a few dollars might be enough to prevent them from checking out books, this is an important initiative in opening the world of learning to all children.”

When the new rule took effect, all pending fines on youth and young adult materials also were removed. Before the change, patrons could be charged a fine of $0.10-$0.25 a day up to a maximum of $5.00 for each book returned after its due date. This new rule only applies to fines; fees will still accrue for items that are lost or damaged. Items that are long overdue will be considered lost and billed for replacement; the return of those materials immediately removes those charges from an account.

The BPL Library Board of Trustees unanimously voted during its regular March 17 meeting to change its circulation policy and remove the fines. This new fine-free policy aligns BPL with the American Library Association, which has published a resolution claiming that “monetary fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services.”

Said BPL Board President Maribeth Miller, “I’ve been promoting the fine free concept for three years now and watching the impact it’s had on increasing library use in the widening number of communities that have implemented it. I’m so pleased that Beloit Public Library is taking this step now to ensure that all families can borrow children’s materials without fear of a debt trap or even a ‘naughty finger’ of shame.”

The removal of fines is a national trend, and the results have been overwhelmingly favorable with more families than ever using libraries and taking advantage of the valuable resources available there.

“Studies and experience show that outstanding fines – as well as the fear of accruing them – result in many families choosing to not access services and resources libraries have to offer, including valuable early literacy materials,” said Amy Mitchell, marketing and communications coordinator for BPL. “Removing the barrier of fines on juvenile materials helps to erase negative experiences and feelings that some individuals may once have associated with libraries. It also ensures that library use does not add any financial hardship for patrons.”

Library fines disproportionately affect patrons in lower-income areas, and subsequently deter those who need the library the most from utilizing the many valuable (and always free) resources found there, including but not limited to WiFi, computers, resume help, homework help, lifelong learning, and workforce development support. Even seemingly frivolous materials such as books, movies, and music are valuable resources for entertainment and promote a higher quality of life, as well as boost mental health. Typically, when economies suffer and families experience hardships, they rely even more heavily on the materials, resources, and programs available at their local libraries. As a result of our current economic climate, the number of patrons who are currently adversely affected by fines is increased.

Fine Free FAQs

Why has BPL removed youth and YA fines?
Monetary fines can create an economic barrier to the access of valuable library materials and services. BPL has removed them so these resources — particularly those important to youth literacy — can be accessible to all.

What does this mean?
BPL will no longer charge fines for youth and YA items that are returned past their due date.

What materials are included?
Late fines will not accrue on any item that is cataloged as youth or young adult (otherwise known as teen), including board books, picture books, easy readers, chapter books, audio books, magazines, movies, and music.

What materials are NOT included? 
This new fine-free policy does NOT include adult items or interlibrary loans. It also does not include fees for lost or damaged items; those will still be billed.

Do the items have to be checked out on a youth card to be fine free?
All youth and YA items are fine free, regardless of who checks them out. The policy applies to the type of item and not the age of the person checking out.

What about my existing fines? 
We also are waiving previous fines for youth and teens! If you are still seeing fines on your account, talk to a member of our staff.

When are items due back?
All items still have a due date, and we still want  them back, but now there is more leniency as to when they come back.

Why did I receive a bill?
If we haven’t received the item back several weeks past its due date, we will assume the item is lost and send a bill for replacement. If you still have the item, bring it back, and your account will be moved back into good standing. No questions asked!

Still have questions? 
Ask any staff member.

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