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St. Joseph County Public Library is getting rid of all fines and fees in 2022

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Jakob Lazzaro / WVPE
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The St. Joseph County Public Library is permanently doing away with all fines and fees starting January 1, 2022.

That means you’ll no longer have to pay fines or late fees for that overdue book — and the library is removing all current fines and late fees so everybody gets a fresh start.

It will also no longer charge rental fees for DVDs, and all cardholders will get $5 per day in free printing and faxing.

In a post on its website, the library says the change makes it more accessible by eliminating financial barriers that keep people from using it, as fines often have the biggest impact on poor and minority communities.

Nearly a hundred thousand people have St. Joseph County Public Library Cards. The library says 51 percent of those cardholders have at least one charge on their account.

The library will still charge a replacement fee and if a checked-out item is never returned — but if a cardholder returns the item, the fee will be waived.

Over the past several years, major library systems including New York City, Chicago, San Diego and Boston have done away with fines and fees and seen increases in patronage and the return of late materials.

For example, the Chicago Public Library dropped all fines and fees in fall 2019 and saw a 240 percent increase in returned materials over the next month.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.