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Wauwatosa Library eliminates fines for overdue children's books

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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Library late fees can add up, which may discourage younger readers from returning to check out books and other materials.

To help improve access, the Wauwatosa Library Board decided the library will no longer collect overdue fines on their children's books starting Monday, Dec. 9.

Library staff found that more than 70-percent of blocked Wauwatosa library cards were blocked solely because of overdue fines. These people had actually returned all of their library materials.

Since 2017, library board trustees and staff have been researching eliminating overdue fines as a way to make the library more accessible to the community.

The research shows that small fines do not have any impact on return rates. And Wauwatosa isn't alone -- over 150 communities have taken similar steps, including major cities like Chicago, Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota.

"We want to encourage as many children as possible to be able to come in and explore the wonderful things we have and make sure that fines don't become a barrier for the kids to make those connections with books or audio books or the other things we offer," said Wauwatosa Library Director Peter Goeffel.

Library users will no longer be assessed overdue fines on Children's Library materials that are returned late, and existing overdue fines on children's library materials are being waived.

The Wauwatosa Library will still issue overdue fines for other materials outside of the Children's Library.

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