Return items flood Monroe County Library after late fees eliminated

BLOOMINGTON – During the pandemic, the Monroe County Public Library got rid of its late fine program, per an American Library Association resolution that said fines constituted a barrier to service. So the patron did not have to pay anything for his overdue item.

If a patron doesn’t return an item, they are billed after 21 days for the lost item. But if they bring back the item at any time, the bill is waved. If an item is legitimately lost, they do have a care fee program that patrons can enter.

Under the new system, in the first three months of 2022 alone, the library has received over 96% of late items back, which is significantly more than in years past. More than 4,400 items were billed for at the three-week point, 4,233 were returned, 170 were paid for damages, and only five items were completely lost.

Before the system in 2019, out of 10,000 books billed, 2,690 were completely lost. Communications and marketing manager Mandy Hussey says that the new program is creating a positive impact on the library by eliminating the overdue fines people are bringing items back.

Library staff says the program helps close more socio-economic barriers in Monroe County.

Information: Indiana Public Media