Starting January 11, 2022, Decorah Public Library will no longer be collecting fines on any materials and all existing fines have been deleted from library users’ accounts. Why go fine free? Well, lots of reasons. DPL exists to provide equal access to materials and fines get in the way of that by creating a financial or social barrier for some users. Fines also disproportionately affect the finances of lower-income library users because fines only punish people who can’t easily repay them. There is also little evidence that fines make people return things on time. Fine free libraries report fewer overdue materials and a decrease in the number of days materials are overdue.
Fine revenue was only .3% of the library’s annual budget (and it takes staff time to collect overdue fines, so any revenue brought in was pretty much cancelled out in staff time.) We know some of you liked paying fines because it was your way of supporting the library. Great news! You can still do that, but just call it a free will donation. If you want, toss us a few bucks when you return things late, we’ll use that money to add new things to the collection, pay for fun and interesting programs, etc. If you don’t ever have cash, you can donate to the Friends of Decorah Public Library with a credit card and they’ll route those funds to the library for programs and collections.
You must still return your materials by their due date. Anything that is 28 days overdue is considered lost and library users will be billed for the replacement fee of those materials. And accounts with materials that are 28 days overdue will be blocked from future checkouts until materials are either returned or paid for. Feel free to reach out to DPL staff if you have any questions!