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Allen County Public Library to go fine-free in 2023


The Allen County Public Library will begin the year by going fine free for all patrons, retroactively clearing any existing fines and fees in patrons accounts.

Beginning Tuesday all library cardholders will no longer accrue fines for checked out materials that have missed their return date.

Director of Communications Aja Michael-Keller says those fines can be a source of shame and a barrier to patrons using the library.

“What we see happen is that those fines accrue, and it becomes sort of shameful," she said. "They’re afraid to come back, they’re afraid of what that number might be, and so they don’t come back.”

At the beginning of 2022, the ACPL went fine free for cardholders under 18. Michael-Keller says they saw an increase in youths checking out materials by 181 percent.

She says in 2022, fines made up only about a half of a percent of the library's budget. The decision follows a larger trend throughout the country. In 2017, 92 percent of libraries charged fines, but today only about 36 percent do.

After 30 days, patrons will still be charged a lost item fee for unreturned materials, but other libraries that have gone fine free have reported no significant increase in late returns or replacements.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.