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Starting January 1, 2021, Waseca-Le Sueur Regional Library System is fine free.

We don’t charge fines on late items. This ensures that all people have access to library books and materials, which is our primary purpose as a public library.

Why did the library system go fine-free?

It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the services and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. Staff worried that overdue fines were resulting in inequitable access to publicly owned materials. We hope this will encourage previous users to come back to the library and attract new users.

Eliminating overdue fines and increasing access to the Library benefits our entire community!

  • Children enjoy picture books and early learning materials that help them prepare for kindergarten and beyond.
  • Jobseekers can check out books and resources on resume writing, workforce skills, interview techniques and use the library’s computers to apply for jobs.
  • Readers are introduced to books and authors that inspire creativity and innovation.
  • New community members can gain access to materials that will help them succeed in their new home.
  • In 2019, over 153,000 people visited the Library on site and borrowed over 226,000 items. We want these numbers go to up!
  • In 2020, over 2,000 of our patrons were blocked because of late fines over $20. We temporarily unblocked these patrons during COVID. This temporary measure was set to expire at the end of the year. This means over 2,000 previously blocked patrons will continue to retain access to our collection and use of our computers.

Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. In many cases, people simply stop coming to the Library. Other libraries have reported that return rates actually increased after they went fine free. We will continue to monitor how this policy change affects patrons and will make improvements to our policies and procedures as necessary.

It’s fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for our libraries in the past 10 years.

How Do Late Fines Create Barriers to Using the Library?

Community engagement and national research reveal that fines create a barrier to library use for many people. While many library users incur late fines, the ability to pay them depends greatly on income. Those who are able to pay can keep using the library, whereas those who are unable to pay cannot. This runs counter to our mission.

Many people do not use libraries because they fear being fined. The guilt and shame people feel over library fines creates a negative association with libraries and drives them away.

It is our job as a public library system to ensure that all people can enjoy and access the information they need from our collection and services.

What Does Fine Free Mean For You?

You will no longer receive a late fine on overdue items but you are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back!

The library will send you a courtesy notice to remind you to return your items and automatically renew an item up to two times when it is not on hold for other patrons.

Reminder Schedule

3 DAYS BEFORE ITEMS ARE DUE Courtesy reminder/renewal notice
21 DAYS LATE Overdue notice
35 DAYS LATE Billed—your card will be blocked for use if charges are over $20

Non-Returned Library Items

Items that are overdue by 35 days or more will be considered lost and you will be billed for them. If you return the items, the bill will be cleared from your account.

Donating to the Library

Many library patrons view their fines as a donation to the library. Donations can be made directly to the Library System or to each individual library’s Friends of the Library organization. Your donation will support critical library programs and services.

Library System’s Budget

Eliminating this revenue will not affect our library system’s collections and services. Our latest budget ensures the library system can maintain its current support of collections and services while no longer requiring revenue from late fines.

Eliminating fines is fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials, which do not accrue late fines, and other factors, fines are not a sustainable or reliable form of revenue for our library system. In 2019, we collected $2600 in late fines.

Previous Late Fines

We removed late fines on all patron accounts as of December 31, 2020. If you see a late fine on your account, it is in error. Please notify a library staff member who will clear it.

Expired Library Card

Your library card may have expired if you haven’t used it in more than two years. Please contact a library staff member who can reactivate your card or register you for a new card.

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