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Overdue Books? No Worries, Soon The Kansas City Public Library Will No Longer Charge You

Christina Elias
KCUR 89.3
Children play in the library after the Kansas City Public Library announced a new policy not to charge late fees for overdue materials. The new policy will go into effect July 1.

The Kansas City Public Library is doing away with fees for overdue materials starting July 1.

Library representatives announced they will also forgive any previously-incurred late fees. The move is part of an effort to increase library traffic by removing one obstacle that keeps patrons from returning to the library.

Director of the Kansas City Library Crosby Kemper III said they are making the change one reason.

“We know from evidence around the country that this will increase children’s usage of the library,” Kemper said. “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.”

Libraries will continue to charge for lost or damaged materials. An item is considered lost if it is not returned within 14 days of the due date. Libraries will waive the fee if the lost item is returned later. Patrons with over $45 in fees cannot check out other materials until the fine is paid, but they will still have access to resources like computers.

KCPL makes about $70,000  from overdue fees each year, but Kemper said the change should not have any tangible effect on library branches, only a “relatively small cost to the library.”

In return, Kemper said, “We expect a tremendous increase in children’s activity.”

Libraries at Kansas City Public Schools will follow suit and discontinue late fees.


Credit Christina Elias / KCUR 89.3
Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas, right, praised the Kansas City Public Library's new policy to not charge overdue fees after KCPL director Crosby Kemper III made the announcement June 28.

Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas and Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady said public libraries played an important role in their childhoods.

“The Kansas City Public Library has done one more thing to remove barriers to success for our children, and not just our children, but our residents in this community,” Canady said. She said that many library branches are located in “distressed” areas and fewer fines would help bring those communities back to their libraries.

Mike English, the executive director of Turn the Page KC, said his organization — which was founded by Mayor Sly James — shares the library’s goal “to get kids excited about reading.”

“The spark that ignites a child’s excitement about reading can be a delicate thing, and so any barrier -- even if it is a small fine -- can really stop a child who may become a proficient or excited reader from doing so,” English said.

Christina Elias is an intern at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at christinae@kcur.org or on Twitter @eliaschristina4.

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