Waseca Public Library (copy)

The Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library System will eliminate fines and fees in 2021. The library chose to do so to make the library more accessible to more people. (File photo/southernminn.com)

The Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library System will no longer charge fines or late fees on items.

Beginning in 2021, all fines and charges will be removed from patrons’ accounts and no new fines will be given.

The library is eliminating fees and fines to remove the financial barrier that keeps some community members from using the resources the libraries have to offer. By taking away the fines and fees, the libraries are open to more patrons to use.

“Staff are excited that the Library Board voted to eliminate late fines starting in 2021. This is a big step forward to opening up our libraries’ collections and services to more of our community members,” Library Director Stacy Lienemann said in a press release. “Over 2,000 of our patrons were blocked because of late fines over $20. Some of these late fines were accrued years ago, when the patron was a child. Now we welcome these patrons back to access all we offer, from books to hotspots and everything in between.”

Fines and fees are a thing of the past for the Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library System, but if the library doesn’t receive its items back a bill will be sent to that patron. If the items are returned after the bill is sent out, the bill will be deleted off of the person’s account.

As a courtesy the library employees will send out a renewal or return reminder three days before the item is due back, then at 21 days an overdue notice will be sent out and at 35 days late, the person will be billed.

This is a way for the libraries to ensure that its items are returned.

According to the Waseca-Le Sueur Library System website, studies show that late fees don’t have a significant impact on getting people to abide by the return dates and that people stop using the libraries instead. Other libraries have reported an increase in return rates when fees are removed.

The library system will continue to monitor how the removal of fines is affecting the library overall.

Fees and fines bring minimal revenue to the library and, according to the library, will not affect the library system’s collections and services.

In 2019, the library system collected $2,600 in late fines.

The current budget ensures the library system can maintain its current support, collections and services and it is fiscally responsible to eliminate fines because of the electronic materials available that do not accrue late fines.

Libraries are a resource to help community members and not hinder them for being unaffordable due to fines and fees.

In 2020, over 2,000 Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library System users were blocked from using the resources due to late fines over $20. These patrons were temporarily allowed access during COVID-19 and will continue to have access now due to the elimination of fines and fees.

Fines and fees restrict those who want and need access to library resources and the elimination of barriers will allow more people to access the library and what it has to offer.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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