Kaukauna Library drops all fines for late returns

Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 7:50 PM CST
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A big change at the Kaukauna Library.

Starting Thursday it is now fine free, and the first library to do this in the Fox Cities.

The rush to return a book, or movie at the Kaukauna Library to prevent an overdue fine is now over after a shift to an honor system that doesn't penalize its users.

Kaukauna Library Director Ashley Thiem-Menning said,"It means that we will not be charging ten cent per day per item late fees anymore and then anyone that has a library card here in Kaukauna, they will also be able to have their late fees waived.">

Thiem-Menning says more than 17 percent of its users were blocked because of overdue fines, which can now be erased.

However fines for materials never brought back, or brought back damaged will be kept in place.

"Fine revenue has been steadily decreasing. We are seeing the ability of people to pay fines decreasing. In 2018, our fine revenue was about $7,500. This year we're closing out the year at only about $6,000," Thiem-Menning added.

That revenue accounts for less than one percent of the library's total operating cost.

So far, the feedback has been mostly positive.

Laura Van Vonderen of Kaukauna said,"It's nice to have a little flexibility with that. I don't always finish my book on time and then I don't have that concern with having to get it back and not be able to finish my book."

The goal is to increase overall traffic since fines have kept people away.

Thiem-Menning said, "We knew that there were more inactive library cards with fines than active library cards with fines which means that about two and a half times more people are not coming back to the library because of fines."

If the change proves to be a success, the hope is other libraries in the Fox Cities will follow suit.