Beginning Monday, July 1, the Kansas City Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines and will clear all previous fines accrued before this date.
The Kansas City Public Library made the announcement Friday, June 28 at the library’s Southeast branch.
More than 450 libraries in the U.S. have eliminated fines, but the Kansas City Public Library is the first major library in the region to do so, said Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper.
Kemper said this will be a small cost to the library and that they are removing fines to increase usage of the library, particularly for children.
“Fines, in particular for low-income families, are a barrier to using the library and we want to remove that barrier and encourage everybody to use the library,” Kemper said. “This is a really great day for the Kansas City Public Library, for our librarians and for the children.”
The Kansas City Public Library cleared $250,000 of overdue fines from the past four years. More than 9,000 people now have renewed access to library materials.
Due dates, however, will still be in effect. Beginning July 1, if a patron does not return a book 14 days after the due date, they will receive a lost fee.
This fee has been reduced from about $30 to about $15. To have the fee removed, patrons must return the book.
If a patron accumulates $45 in fees, they won’t be able to check out library materials, but they can still use the library’s other resources such as computers and digital materials.
The Kansas City Public School libraries will also stop charging overdue fines July 1.
Kansas City Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas said he is excited that more people will be able to access the library, particularly young people.
“The amazing thing about fines with library books—because I don’t know if I have any in adulthood, but I might have had some youthful indiscretions—what I remember is it was this sort of thing where you learn about impediments to your opportunity do things in life,” Lucas said. “And I’m so proud today of our library for getting rid of one of those and creating more opportunities.”
Kansas City Councilwoman of the 5th District Alissia Canady said she is glad the library has removed financial barriers and created access opportunities.
“I am so excited to be a part of a community that understands the importance of access and is intentional in removing barriers to success and is intentional and deliberate about creating economic opportunities in all parts of the city,” Canady said.
Turn the Page Executive Director Mike English said that his goal is to get children excited about reading.
Turn the Page is a nonprofit organization founded by Mayor Sly James in 2011 as an initiative to achieve reading proficiency at grade level or above for all third graders in Kansas City, Mo.
“Taking away late fines is going to make a huge difference, and we’re going to have many, many more kids not just reading proficiently, but being excited about reading,” English said.
Samara Crawford-Herrera, the Kansas City Public Schools community partnerships, advocacy and engagement manager, said the decision to eliminate fines will create social change in Kansas City.
“It is an investment in our children, our family members and our neighbors,” Crawford-Herrera said. “KCPS is so proud to call the Kansas City Public Library system our partners.”
For more information, visit kclibrary.org/finefree.