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Bloomington And Normal Public Libraries Go Fine Free

BPL exterior
Rhonda Massie
Bloomington Public Library
The Bloomington Public Library opened to the public on June 29.

The Bloomington Public Library (BPL) and Normal Public Library (NPL) are no longer charging fines on overdue items. All overdue fines prior to Wednesday will be forgiven for all patrons. 

Even though overdue fines will no longer exist, there will still be lost or damaged fees. If an item is 28 days late, it will  be considered lost, and a reimbursement fee will be charged. 

The American Library Association recognized in 2019 that overdue fines are a form of social inequity, meaning that people who need the services cannot afford the fines, said BPL Marketing Manager Rhonda Massie. The association called on libraries throughout the U.S. to eliminate fines. 

Revenue from fines have been on the decline anyway at both libraries. It’s now around $31,000 per year at Bloomington, and $15,030 at Normal. 

“Some of the decline can be attributed to the increase in popularity of circulating ebooks, e-audiobooks, and streaming movies. Something we expect people to ask is, will this loss of revenue hurt the library? And the answer is no for both libraries,” said Massie. 

Normal Public Library board President Jess Ray said the decision to remove fines is directly related to its vision for the library. 

“Removing fines is a way to remove barriers for literacy, learning, creativity, and innovation during a time when our patrons may be facing economic challenges and uncertainty,” Ray said. 

The BPL and NPL are both doing automatic renewals for items that are eligible. BPL will renew up to three times, and NPL will renew up to two times. 

“Sometimes the item is not eligible for renewal, so if another patron is waiting for something and it is really popular, they will not automatically renew. But you will get a text message saying, ‘Hey these items are due,’” Massie said. 

Items at BPL that are not eligible for renewal are ebooks, items in the most wanted section, and items that do not belong to the library. 

The Bloomington Public Library hopes the removal of fines will bring in new members and attract former members as well, too. 

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