Ottumwa Public Library Goes Fine Free!
The Ottumwa Public Library is starting the New Year with an exciting new policy. As of January 6, 2020, the library will no longer charge fines on overdue materials. Current fines on accounts will be waived as the library staff adjusts their procedures.
“Sometimes patrons have challenges that come up preventing them from returning library books on time. It happens to us all at some point,” said Sonja Ferrell, Director of the Ottumwa Public Library. “We don’t want to punish people. We just want to get materials back so that someone else can enjoy them too.”
This new policy applies to late or overdue fines only. Check out time frames will remain the same. Items more than 60 days overdue are still considered lost by the library and patrons will be charged for lost or damaged materials. Patrons will not be able to check out more materials until any overdue items are resolved on their accounts.
Many have probably seen stories from across Iowa as well as the rest of the country about libraries going fine free. The Ottumwa Public Library can now join in this trend to better serve the entire community.
“Fines disproportionately punish lower income patrons and especially children for very little revenue in return,” Ferrell said. “A pillar of our mission is to offer materials, programs, and services for everyone in our community. When you add up staff time sending out notices, postage on notices, and aggrieved conversations disputing fines, it really isn’t worth it.”
In libraries where similar policies have been implemented they have seen increases in active library card users and circulation. The Ottumwa Public Library Board of Trustees will be monitoring the usage numbers over the next year.