MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — The Madison Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines on library materials effective immediately.

“Madison Public Library is proud to support our commitment to equity and literacy. By eliminating nearly all overdue fines and ceasing to use a collections agency, we want to encourage even more Madisonians to use the library by removing those barriers to library services,” director Greg Mickells said. “Especially now, we need to make our libraries more accessible.”

In August 2019, the Library Board and library staff began to explore the costs and benefits of moving to a fine free model, and in July 2020, the Library Board passed a proposed 2021 operating budget that included the elimination of fine revenue. At its August 6, 2020, board meeting, the Library Board formally passed an updated policy eliminating the charging of overdue fines and eliminating the use of a collections agency, which had been used to collect outstanding library charges of over $50.00.

The library has not assessed fines since closing due to COVID-19 on March 17.

“We know that some library customers are unable to check out library materials due to fines, and in keeping with our commitment to equity and access to public libraries, we felt that this was the right time to eliminate overdue fines and the use of a collection agency,” Madison Public Library Board President Jaime Healy-Plotkinv said. “We made this decision during a particularly difficult budget discussion, but now more than ever, public libraries are valuable community assets that should be available for all.”

Two exceptions to this policy include:

  • Items checked out from South Central Library System libraries that still charge overdue fines
  • Items borrowed from non-South Central Library System libraries

In addition, library customers will still be charged replacement costs for items that are lost or damaged.