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Feeling fine-free: Clive Public Library to eliminate overdue fines

The library joins a growing number of libraries eliminating fines on overdue materials in order to make the library more inclusive.

CLIVE, Iowa — Editor's note: The above video was published June 3. 

Beginning this Friday, July 1, the Clive Public Library will eliminate fines on overdue materials. 

The library joins a growing number of public libraries ditching the fees. Other fine-free public libraries in Iowa include the Van Meter Public Library, the Cedar Falls Public Library and the Waterloo Public Library. 

“We are excited to be a part of this growing movement,” said Director of Leisure Services Richard Brown in a press release.

The library cited several reasons for the switch, saying that fines disproportionately affect children, teens and low-income families, creating a barrier to using the library. 

“It is important that the library remains a place that is open and easily accessible to all patrons, and we hope that the elimination of fines on overdue materials will help visitors to feel welcome," Brown said. "We also hope that this will encourage past patrons to visit the library that may have outstanding fines to come back to the library again.”

Furthermore, the library noted that overdue fines typically only account for less than 1% of the total budget. 

That's not to say returning items late will be completely excused. On the first day an item is overdue, a notice will be delivered via text, email or mail and the account will be blocked from checking out other materials. 

If an item has still yet to be returned 60 days after the original due date, the library will send a bill to cover replacement costs and processing fees. At 120 days after the due date, if no action has been taken, the library will send the patron to the Collection Agency for further contact. 

Items such as Makerspace items, mobile hotspots, in-house laptops, video games and board games will be excluded from the fine-free program.

The library will also continue to charge for lost or damaged items. 

For those with outstanding fines, the library will have a period of amnesty that will run from July 1 to December 31, 2022. During this period, overdue or lost items that are returned will be accepted and fines will be waived. 

Fines that are on a patron's account from materials that were returned late in the past will be forgiven. To benefit from amnesty, patrons must call or make a physical trip to the library.

If you have questions about the process, visit www.cityofclive.com/finefree or call 515-453-2221 to speak with a librarian. 

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