Kent District Library getting rid of late fines

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent District Library says it’s going to stop charging late fines and forgive outstanding fees.

Once fines have been forgiven starting June 1, the checkout ban on anyone with outstanding fees will be lifted.

The library is still going to keep track of late books and other materials and warn you about them. Anything more than 35 days past its due date will be considered lost and you’ll have to bring it back or pay for it. You’ll also still have to pay if something is damaged.

“We’re not saying that because we’re eliminating overdue fines that we’re opening the library for free and everybody can just have what they want,” Director of Programming, Outreach and Collection Services Michelle Boisvenue-Fox said.

She said the new policy is meant to ease hardship on people who may not be able to afford fines, and that it’s expected to draw people back to the library and increase circulation.

She said after reviewing KDL’s data, officials realized most of the people with outstanding fines were those who couldn’t afford to pay.

“They’d have too many fines on their card and they can’t check out books and they can’t use a digital collection, so we wanted to remove that barrier,” Boisvenue-Fox explained.

Rene Curtis is a loyal KDL cardholder. While visiting the Comstock Park branch Monday, she told 24 Hour News 8 that she fully supports eliminating overdue fines. Curtis recalled a previous experience when she couldn’t make it back to the library. She called and let librarians know of her situation and was allowed to bring it back late free of charge.

“I had so many things going on. It was one less thing to worry about because (the) library is a friend and not a collection agency,” Curtis said.

Boisvenue-Fox told 24 Hour News 8 that the revenue from late fines has dropped quite a bit since automatic renewals were put in place. In 2017, fines for late, damaged and lost items earned KDL $150,911.

KDL had already cut late fees for active military members and veterans. Last month, the Grand Rapids Public Library, which is separate from KDL, got rid of late fines for children’s materials.

**Correction: A previous version of this article stated the library received $940,983 from fines and forfeitures in 2017. While that figure is accurate, funds from fines and forfeitures are not the same as funds from late, lost or damaged items.

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