Hennepin County Library System Eliminates Late Fees
The Hennepin County Library system is joining a growing number of counties and cities by eliminating late fees. That includes books, movies and music.
The county previously automatically extended all due dates because of COVID-19. Prior to the global pandemic, if a person accumulated more than $10 in fees, they were no longer able to check out materials. The county says going fine-free reduces economic barriers for patrons and increases accessibility to library materials.
“We have actually been in the process of removing barriers to access for our patrons for quite some time. We removed any barrier access to public computer, so you can access public computer. It doesn’t matter what your library card record says. We also have auto renewal. We also don’t charge for card replacement fees. This is one of our many steps to remove barriers to patrons accessing our collection,” explained Samantha Jekot-Graham, patron experience lead for Hennepin County Library.
Jekot-Graham added that in a Hennepin County research, the library system found a lot of areas of disparity were impacted more than just areas of wealth. She also noted that the amount of late fees is only a small portion of the system’s budget.
“I think it’s worth it to lose that funding because if a patron has a fine that stops them from coming to the library, it might make a difference between whether they have food on the table or going to the library. We recognize that losing that part of the budget is worth it to work with those patrons,” explained Jekot-Graham.
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners is still figuring out details on how it will handle current overdue balances.
Thirty-three of the 41 Hennepin County libraries are open for grab and go. People can also use public computers for an hour.