Elimination of Fines on Children and Teen Materials

In continual pursuit of our mission to “serve the people of Laramie County by encouraging and supporting lifelong learning and adventure,” we here at Laramie County Library System are eliminating fines on children and teen materials beginning July 1, 2019. The new policy will be applicable to all materials on the second floor, excepting Blu-rays, DVDs, videogames, and adult nonfiction such as the parenting, homeschool, and childcare books. We are committed to creating, maintaining, and growing a library that is equitable and accessible, and eliminating these fines will move us forward in ensuring that the library is truly a place for all.

While overdue fines were originally implemented to encourage people to return their books, for many families in our community the fines are merely a barrier to access, and the fines often deter individuals from borrowing items to begin with. Fines disproportionately affect those who cannot afford them and they dissuade families who rely on the library from coming back. Alienating anyone from the library for fines that make up 0.3 percent of our budget does not adhere to our vision to “provide opportunities that empower everyone to reach their full potential.”

This move ties in with the library’s goals for the First Steps: Early Literacy Begins at Home program, which aims to make early literacy a high priority throughout Laramie County by reaching at-risk children in their own homes. The program was created to help remove some of the barriers that prevent children from accessing the early learning resources they need. Eliminating fines on children and youth materials functions in the same way, and provides more children and families with opportunities for growth and advancement.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding this new policy. We encourage anyone who has any questions or concerns to contact the library for more information. We are excited to open up more opportunities for those who need them, and we hope to see children and families taking advantage of this new policy.

There are no overdue fines on children and teen materials (except movies and videogames).

Our mission to serve the people of Laramie County by encouraging and supporting lifelong learning and adventure. We want to provide access and going fine free is one way we can increase access to our collections and services. Returning library books late or losing them altogether is something many people have experienced firsthand. While overdue fines are assumed to help get books returned and back in circulation, the fact is that for many families in our community, overdue fines are a real barrier to access. Fines disproportionately affect those who cannot afford them. Children are often punished for something that is not in their control. Finally, overdue fines on children and teen materials comprises a very small percentage of our total budget at approximately 0.3 percent.

This change took effect on June 28, 2019 with testing until July 29, 2019 to ensure all the changes in the automated system took effect.

What about late materials?
You will not incur any overdue fines on children and teen materials (except movies and videogames) once you return materials. We block accounts from further checkout when one or more items are more than 35 days overdue. There is still a consequence for not returning materials on time, but it is not in the form of overdue fines. Your account will be unblocked if you return overdue items. As always, you can renew most items two times. We will continue to send reminders for items that are overdue and a bill for never-returned or damaged items.

How can I tell which materials won’t incur overdue fines?
Most materials on the 2nd floor in Cheyenne, as well as the Bookmobile and children and teen materials in Burns and Pine Bluffs. You can tell by looking at the call number on the spine of the item. If there is a “J”, “E” or “YA”, it indicates the book is appropriate for children or teens. J = Juvenile; E = Easy; YA = Young Adult. Note that movies (DVDs and Blu-rays) and videogames still have a $2.00 rental fee for four days and incur a $1.00 fine for each day the item is overdue. Adult materials on the 2nd floor will continue to incur overdue fines. These collections include Homeschool, Parenting, and Childcare (Wyoming STARS).

Lost or damaged items
You are still responsible for never-returned or damaged items. Charges for never-returned (lost or stolen) or damaged items are calculated per the Fee policy. We still charge collection agency fees, as well as fees for missing or damaged cases, removed barcodes, processing fees, etc.

When will this take effect?
Beginning July 1, 2019, any borrowed children or teen materials will not be charged overdue fines.

Does this mean my current overdue fines are being wiped away?
Our goal is to improve access and opportunity. The Board of Directors approved a one-time fine forgiveness for all overdue fines on children and teen materials. If you have any other fines preventing you from using the library, we invite you to speak with a staff member at the Cards & Accounts desk or at the front desk in Burns, Pine Bluffs, or Bookmobile about returning any overdue items and updating your library account.

Blocked or Suspended Library Cards
If you owe $10.00 or more for never-returned or damaged items, your borrowing privileges are blocked until you have paid for your charges or reduced the amount owed below $10.00. If you have items overdue by 35 days, your borrowing privileges will be blocked until the items are returned.

Collection Agency
We use the services of a collection agency to collect money for never-returned items when the obligation equals or exceeds $25.00. Items not returned by 45 days are turned over to a collection agency. Note that if we refer an account to a collection agency, we apply a non-refundable $20.00 fine to your account. You must pay the account in full prior to checking out library materials.