Johnson County Library fines for overdue books may become obsolete

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 9:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (KCTV) - Library fines for overdue book returns may be a thing of the past for Johnson County libraries.

Johnson County’s library board is planning on getting rid of fines. Currently, the library charges 30 cents a day for overdue books — the highest rate in the metro.

“If you are a family of four checking a pile of books each, and you’re a day late on those, it can add up pretty quickly,” said Kinsley Riggs, the deputy county librarian. “Our fines right now do max out at $6, so once you hit that threshold, it doesn’t go over that. But at the 30-day mark, they are marked as lost in our system, so you’re charged an additional fee.”

Riggs said getting rid of the fine system is a national trend the library wants to follow. Some of the largest metropolitan libraries are already fine-free.

“We are all about access of the library, so removing fines is a way of removing a barrier,” Riggs said. “There’s a perception that the fines might create a barrier for people to use the library that don’t want to accrue those fines or don’t have the means to pay those fines.”

Although the fine system might be no longer, library officials said that late fees will still be charged.

“When you’re assessed a fee, it’s that we have deemed that item lost because you kept that item for so long, or you told us that it’s lost,” Riggs said, “or you’ve damaged an item.”

The biggest question now is what happens when someone already owes money.

“Anybody that already has a fine, we will remove those fines so long as it’s under $600, or it’s not in bankruptcy proceedings,” Riggs said.

The plan to eliminate the fines could roll out as early as April 14, if the library board approves it. Just in time for the summer reading.