Dubuque library considers going fine free - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque library considers going fine free

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Know those pesky fines for returning books late to the library?  Those could soon be gone.

The Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque won't do anything right away, but they're considering getting rid of those fines altogether.

"For many people, you get a fine, it's a slap on the wrist, and you grumble and pay your fine," said Susan Henricks, the library's director. "For others, it can be a significant barrier."

In fact, Henricks says more than 1,700 children under the age of 18 can't use library services because a hold is placed on their accounts when they reach $10.

 No changes would come this year, Henricks says, because they've already figured the average of a little more than $36,000 in revenue into their budget.

But a big reason to get rid of those fines--Henricks says it actually costs them more to collect and process those fines than they bring in.

"In fact, when you consider how much time we put into the collection of fines, it's actually negative," Henricks said.

But many worry getting rid of fines would mean people would "pillage the collection," Henricks said.

Research shows that wouldn't be the case, Henricks said.  "Most people bring back materials when they're done with them, or because they have a good conscience or because they're good citizens, not because they're necessarily afraid of a fine."

If they do implement a new policy regarding fines, Henricks says it could be on a trial basis, and it be a couple of different options.

But she says while most libraries continue to collect fines, the ones that have stopped collecting haven't changed their policy back.

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