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Fines May Go The Way Of The Card Catalog At Kalamazoo's Public Library

A row of books on a tall bookshelf.
Michael Rubinkam
AP Photo

Attitudes are changing in the library world about fines for overdue books. More and more libraries are dropping them, and Kalamazoo’s public library may soon join the list.

Fines are supposed to motivate patrons to bring items back on time. But KPL’s Kevin King says in practice, those charges can keep people away.

“They’ll get a fine and then they feel bad about it and they just don’t come back. And our take has always been, we would rather have you back as a library user. We want you to use this facility. We want you to use the library,” he said.

King says the library is especially concerned about patrons who can’t afford a fine. And he adds that fines make up less than one percent of the library’s revenue.

“Every library we talked to anecdotally said this was the best move they made. Hold lines weren’t any longer. In some cases they were shorter. People were actually more likely to bring their materials back,” he said.

But KPL hasn’t made a decision on whether to go fine-free. That’ll be up to the library’s board this fall. Patrons who lose an item will still have to pay for it.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.
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