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Kenton Co. Library Eliminates Fines for Most Overdue Items

The Kenton County Public Library announced Monday that it will no longer charge fines on most overdue items.

The decision follows a similar policy and amnesty system enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic which limited use of the library system.

In a news release, the library stated that the new policy does not mean that items can be kept indefinitely. After sixty days of being overdue, an item will be considered lost and the library patron will be charged for it.

“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,” said Kenton County Public Library Executive Director Dave Schroeder.

The Kenton library cited similar policies for systems in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Salt Lake City. 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, the library said in a news release.

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,” said 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, the library said. 

A survey was sent to library patrons following amnesty month.

“Many comments were received via the survey and through staff,” Schroder said in a news release. “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.”

-Staff report

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