Lincoln City Libraries (LCL) announced Wednesday that overdue fees will no longer be charged on youth materials. Materials that are three weeks overdue will be considered lost and the customer will be charged a replacement fee. The replacement fee will be removed when the items are returned.
Library Director Pat Leach said that LCL research determined overdue fines have become an ineffective motivator to return books promptly. She said fines are an unnecessary barrier for children who often lack the autonomy or ability to return library materials on time, and for families who cannot afford to pay them.
“Libraries across the country are going to a fine-free model as a way to encourage children to read by eliminating barriers to library use,” Leach said. “Early childhood literacy is key in our library’s strategic plan, and a central tenet of our community’s values. We have found room in our budget to accommodate decreased fine revenue in the current budget cycle. We remain careful in our stewardship of tax funding to seek maximum impact.”
LCL participates in many efforts to encourage early literacy, including 15 Minutes a Day, Begin with Books and Prosper Lincoln. “One of the best indicators of academic success is whether children are read aloud to from birth through age 8,” said Vicki Wood, Library Youth Services Coordinator. “We believe this change will lead to more of Lincoln’s families reading aloud to their preschoolers.”
In support of its January Winter Reading Challenge, LCL did not assess overdue fees on any materials returned to the library during the month. Beginning in February, the library will again assess overdue charges on materials for adults.