Ilsley Public Library will become a fine free library at the start of the town’s new fiscal year, on July 1st. This exciting change is the culmination of two years of learning, conversation, and policy work involving the library staff, trustees, and local government.
A fine free library does not assess fines for books and materials returned past their due date. Fees—which are assessed for materials that are lost, damaged, or stolen—are different from fines, and will still be charged. Going fine free is a growing trend in American public libraries. Over the past decade many public libraries have eliminated fines and have reported increased visits and circulation as a result.
Overdue fines can be a financial barrier to access, and they disproportionately impact low-income families. Removing them is a way to increase access to library collections and services for those who need them most, and to improve the library’s relationship with members of the community.
Ilsley Public Library Board President Joe McVeigh said, “We want the library to be an open and welcoming place to all members of the community. If fines become a barrier to people coming into and using the library, then that gets in the way of our meeting people’s needs. Research from other libraries shows that often the amount of time taken by librarians to enforce and collect fines costs more than the fines themselves bring in! We’re glad to bring Ilsley into line with the best thinking about approaching this issue, as has been demonstrated in many public libraries around the country. ”
On July 1st, existing fines will be forgiven, and the library will no longer assess fines for overdue materials. For further information, please refer to the library’s Fine Free FAQ page and the January 2020 report “Going Fine Free at Ilsley Public Library.”