On January 3, 2023, Davenport Public Library, along with all RiverShare Libraries, eliminated overdue fines for items returned after the due date. The Library Board of Trustees also waived existing overdue fines for all Davenport Public Library cardholders. Here’s what you need to know:
Why did the Library eliminate overdue fines?
Overdue fines are a barrier to equitable access and are antithetical to the Library's mission to connect a diverse community to resources that inform, enrich, educate, and entertain. The potential of accruing a balance of overdue fines prevents many residents from borrowing library imaterials and some from even obtaining a library card. Research shows that communities of color are more likely to be impacted by unpaid library fees and overdue fines on library materials have no impact on ensuring that materials are returned on time. What research has shown is that lower income households (which are less likely to have books in the home and have a higher risk of lower literacy skills) are disproportionately affected by overdue fines and are more likely to have blocked library accounts.
By becoming a fine free library, the Library took an important step towards fulfilling it's vision to create a community-wide culture of learning in which all citizens use the Library and see themselves reflected in the services and staff. Library employees are committed to making the Library as accessible as possible to everyone, especially those that need it most.
Does this mean I can keep items as long as I want?
No, cardholders are still responsible for returning borrowed materials on time so that all members of the community might have access to them. The Library provides courtesy reminders when materials are due back. If materials are not returned in a timely manner, cardholders will be charged the replacement cost and the account will be blocked.
Timeline for a checked out item:
- First notice of overdue items is issued 5 days after the due date and sent to each patron upon verification, based on their chosen notification preference (phone, email, text message).
- Second notice of overdue items is issued 15 days after due date and sent to patron upon verification.
- Third notice (in the form of a bill listing overdue items and the replacement price) is issued 30 days after the due date and mailed.
- Long Overdue Materials - Library accounts for which a bill has been sent may be submitted to a collection agency and/or to local law enforcement for further action per Code of Iowa, Chapter 714.5, Theft of Library Materials and Equipment.
I have long overdue items that are still in good condition, can I bring them back now without a fine?
Yes, please do! The overdue fines on these items have been waived, and we would be very grateful to have these items back on our shelves for others to use.
I found an item that I’m being charged for as “lost.” Can I bring it back?
Yes, please do! Fees charged to your account will be waived for items returned in a timely manner.
How many patrons were impacted by this change?
Everyone! In addition, 9,581 patrons that owed overdue fines on January 3, 2023 were granted amnesty.
This change unblocked my library card! How can I reactivate my library card?
You may be able to use your library card right away, but if your card has expired you will need to renew it by providing proof of address. FYI, library cards expire every 3-years.
How did this change impact holds on library materials?
The effect on the number of holds and the length of time a patron spends on a hold list for an item is one element we have been watching closely. We will continue to send reminders to patrons to return their items on time, and items with holds will still not be able to be renewed.
How was the Library’s budget affected?
This change had a minimal impact on the Library's budget as the annual overdue fine collection amount was less than 0.15% of the annual budget. The Library continues to collect fees for lost or damaged materials.
Can I still give money to the Library in lieu of overdue fines?
Of course you can, and we appreciate your support! You can directly support us by donating to the Library or to the FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library.
I have bills for lost items, how do I pay those?
Bills can be paid at any Davenport Public Library location.