Des Moines Public Library will eliminate late fines on most items

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Photo by Des Moines Public Library.
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New policy, which starts January 16, continues DMPL trend to reduce barriers to using the library

Beginning Tuesday, January 16, 2024, the Des Moines Public Library will no longer charge late fines for books, DVDs, CDs, and more materials.

This policy, approved by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees on Tuesday, December 19, will also retroactively eliminate all past late fines on library accounts. At that time, patrons whose library cards have been blocked due to past unpaid late fines will be able to renew their library cards and use the library again.

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In addition, beginning Tuesday, January 16, all items checked out will automatically renew up to two times as long as there are no holds placed on the item.

Some fines and fees will remain, including:

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  • Fees for lost or damaged library materials. Current lost or damaged fees will remain on cardholder accounts.
  • Late fines for Library of Things items, board games, hotspots, and Interlibrary Loan items. These fines will be 50 cents per day, for a maximum of six days, at which time they will become “lost” items.

“Late fines disproportionately impact children and families in low-income households, and we continue to reduce barriers to using the public library and its wonderful services,” Des Moines Public Library Director Susan A. Woody said. “We want those who have not been able to use us due to late fines to come back to the library. We want to serve as many people as possible.”

This new policy continues recent DMPL strategic initiatives to reduce fines and fees, which include: eliminating late fines on children and teen materials in 2020, reducing other late fines from 25 cents to 10 cents a day in 2020, and eliminating checkout fees for DVDs and Interlibrary Loan items in 2022. Late fines made up a miniscule amount of the library’s operating budget in recent years.

The library will provide more information and specifics of the new policy in the coming weeks at dmpl.org/finefree.

About the Des Moines Public Library

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Founded in 1866, the Des Moines Public Library is the public library system for the City of Des Moines. With six branches and a collection of nearly a half million items, the Des Moines Public Library is the largest public library system in the state of Iowa. The mission of the Des Moines Public Library is to strengthen our community by connecting people with ideas and tools they need to enrich their lives.

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