University libraries to stop charging some overdue fees, offer amnesty day


Brian Hayes

File photo, Ablah Library, 2017

Following nationwide trends, the Wichita State library will stop charging overdue fees on books and reducing overdue charges on other items they offer.

The change will take place on Jan.1. This includes any books that are checked out for a four-week period and have up to two renewals. The change does not include textbooks and leisure reading. 

“Some of the conflicts we tend to have in the library — it’s rare that we do have conflicts, but it’s typically about money,” Ginger Williams, Associate Dean for Academic Engagement and Public Services for WSU Libraries, said, “And we don’t want students’ money. We want you to get to use our materials. The fines are there as a safeguard to make sure we get things back and that they’re available for all the other students who need them, but in an ideal world, everything will just get returned on time and no money will change hands.”

Nationwide, public libraries are getting rid of late fines, citing inequity, according to NPR

Wichita State libraries cited similar reasoning in a press release that said the changes were to reduce barriers and student debt.

Replacement fees will remain in place, according to the release sent out on Thursday. Williams said this is what will keep people who check out books from simply not returning them. 

“We’ve just been thinking about ways to serve students better and to reduce some of their burden,” Williams said. 

According to Williams, this change has been almost a year in the making and was presented to the SGA student advocate as well as the Faculty Senate Library Committee.

“Not surprisingly, they were all very supportive,” Williams told The Sunflower in a follow-up email.

Getting rid of overdue fees will cost the library about $2,500 in annual revenue. Williams said that although that’s no insignificant amount, it can be absorbed in other ways.

“We’re going to have a gain in staff time because it takes time to process the fines and fees,” she said. “So I think the staff member who is responsible for that, mostly her time is going to be better served helping students and helping with interlibrary loan and doing some other things instead. So even though it’s not the financial off, it’s a gain in that time of hers that has monetary value as well.”

Before the change, the library will also offer an amnesty day on Dec. 10. Any item returned to the library that day in good condition will have their fines forgiven.

Four-week materials have a .25 cents a day fine with a maximum of $10 for each item. There is also a $15 processing fee for items that are a year overdue. 

According to Sean Jones, communications specialist for Wichita Public Library, the Wichita Public Library currently does not have plans to stop charging overdue fees.