Omro Library Fine Free FAQs

The Omro Library no longer charges overdue fines for most materials that are checked out from this library and returned late.

What are fines?
In the past, overdue fines were charged for library items that were returned late. Now, there will be no fines assessed for most items that are returned late.

Why Fine Free?

  • Fines represent less than 1% of our budget.
  • We incur expenses to collect overdue fines, including staff time and postage.
  • Fines disproportionately affect low-income families and create a barrier to using the library.
  • What little we lose monetarily will be made up for in good will.
  • Fear of fines stops people from checking out books or limits the number they check out.
  • Studies have shown that punishing people with fines doesn't actually teach them to return things on time.
  • Libraries across the country that have eliminated fines reported increased customer registration and circulation.
  • Research shows that between libraries that charge fines and libraries that don't, the percentage of items returned late is about the same.

All my fines will be gone?
Only overdue (late) charges from the Omro Library will disappear.  Lost and damaged charges won't.  Items checked out at other Winnefox member libraries might still accrue overdue fines.

Does this mean anyone can keep a library item forever?
No.  Just like before, materials will have due dates and generally may be renewed up to two times.  Just like before, if you keep materials for too long, they are automatically set to "LOST" at 30 days past due, and the full replacement cost is assessed to your account.  Patrons will still be charged for lost items, and past lost charges on your account will not go away.

Will there still be charges for damaged items?
Yes.  We will still charge for damaged items.  Just like before, if you accidentally damage an item we may charge a small fee to repair it, or we may charge the full replacement price for an item that is too damaged to use.  Past damage charges on your account will not go away.

What about items I check out from other libraries?
If you order items from another Winnefox member library but check them out at the Omro Library, you will not be charged fines.  If you go to a different library that still charges fines, and check items out at that location, you will be charged fines for overdue items.  We can't waive these fines.

Can I still give you money?
Yes!  You're welcome to donate spare change if you're feeling guilty about returning something late.  However, we'd rather you feel good about using the library, not guilty!

What about the $25 rule?
At the Omro Library, once you reach $25 or more in fees, checkout privileges are suspended.  Putting a cap on the amount owed helps keep your fees manageable.

Will my taxes increase because the library is fine free?  No.

Can I get a refund for fines I've paid in the past?  No.

What if my fines don't disappear?
If you still have fines on your library account, there may be several reasons:  1) the charges are for lost or damaged items (you still have to pay these); 2) you visited another library and checked out items there - these may accrue fines; 3) the fees are for certain items that are not fine free, such as Interlibrary Loan items that come from outside of the Winnefox Library System; or 4) our computer system goofed (please contact us).

Are other libraries doing this?
Yes.  Many libraries across the U.S., including several Winnefox member libraries are now fine free.

Where can I find additional information about public libraries going fine free?
To learn more, you can visit the American Library Association's website to read the American Library Association Resolution on Fines and to find related articles.