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Vernon Area Public Library No Longer Collecting Overdue Fines

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A north suburban library has eliminated fines for overdue materials.

The Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire said overdue fines added up to only about half a percent of their annual budget, and eliminating the fines allows them to save money on the staff time and service costs needed to collect them.

"Certainly a chunk of the revenue that we took in from fines was offset by the time we spent collecting that revenue, so if you owe us a dime, it's going to take us more than a dime's worth of effort to get that back from you," spokeswoman Catherine Savage said.

So the library has waived more than $42,000 in uncollected overdue fines, and won't collect new fines.

Savage said the library isn't worried they'll start losing books and DVDs.

"People really do bring materials back, because they're done with them; and people bring materials back, because they're due, and they know that their neighbor might be waiting to read that hot new book," she said. "It's not really the 10-cent-a-day threat that motivates them to bring it back."


While the library will no longer collect fines for overdue materials, patrons would still be held responsible for replacing any item that is two weeks overdue.

The library will email reminders to patrons two days before their items are due back. They'll also send out paper or email reminders at 3 days and 7 days overdue.

Once an item is two weeks overdue, a patron's library card will be suspended, and they will be billed for replacing the overdue item.

If an item hasn't been returned or replaced within 35 days of the original due date, the library will refer the bill to an independent debt-collection agency, Savage said. If the patron returns the overdue item after that point, they will still be charged a $10 collection fee.

Several other libraries have already adopted such a policy of not charging late fees, including the Algonquin Public Library. The Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich is expected to follow suit next month.

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