Overdue Fines Banished, Heights Libraries Dumps Most Late Fees

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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — Customers are the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library system may no longer have to worry about late fees starting in 2018. The library system said it plans to eliminate overdue fines for most materials in the new year.

“Overdue fines are punitive, and can become a barrier to many people, especially young and low-income people who want to use the library but can’t afford to pay off their fines or are simply afraid that they’re no longer welcome,” says Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin in a statement. “What we really care about is getting our materials back so everyone can use and enjoy them. As long as customers return our items, we no longer see a need to charge overdue fines.”

Fines will still be placed on accounts, for customers to see. However, once an overdue item is returned, the fine will disappear.

Customers will still pay a fine for damaging something they’ve checked out. If someone has 20 or more items checked out, their card will be blocked, the library said.

In addition to abolishing late fees, the library is also expanding how often an item can be renewed. For customers, that means they can renew an item five to 10 times.

“We’re hoping these changes will encourage people to return their overdue items more quickly,” says Ty Emerson, the library’s circulation manager. “Once they do, they get a clean slate, and can check out their next 100 items.”

He added that the library system’s changes, “…signals a further shift in focus from chastisement and restrictions to forgiveness and easier access,” he says.

Additional details on the library’s new fine-free policy will be available Jan. 2.

Photo from Heights Libraries