The Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque is proud to announce that it has become fine free effective July 1, 2019. This means the library will no longer charge fines for overdue materials. Additionally, it will waive any existing overdue fines for patrons when the policy becomes effective.
Currently, when patrons owe $10 or more in overdue fines, their accounts are frozen, meaning they are not allowed to check out materials, access digital resources, or use library computers until the balance is paid in full. On July 1, the library froze patron accounts when items were seven days overdue. Once materials are returned, patrons can go back to enjoying the benefits of their free library card. The library will still charge fees for lost, missing, and damaged items.
The primary purpose for the fine-free policy is to ensure equal access to library materials and resources for all community members, especially children, regardless of socio-economic status.
In 2018, the library conducted a six month fine-free trial. During that time significant change in overdue material was not noticed and little change in the return of items was realized. More importantly, when comparing the trial period to a period when fines were charged, the number of youth borrowers (age 18 and younger) increased 16.7 % during the trial and youth with frozen accounts decreased by 4.2%.
Following the results of the fine-free trial, the Carnegie-Stout Public Library Board of Trustees fully endorsed adopting a fine-free policy. Library Director Susan Henricks included the trial results and requested support for a fine-free policy in her FY20 Budget Proposal to the Dubuque City Council in February 2019. The City Council approved the measure in June 2019.A