Wichita Public Libraries hold amnesty week to forgive fees


Mia Hennen / The Sunflower

Wichita Public Libraries are no longer charging daily fees for overdue materials.

This week, the WPL held an amnesty event that encouraged patrons to return overdue materials without the embarrassment of an assigned block or fee payment. 

Eliminating overdue fees at the Wichita Public Library removes a costly obstacle to the city’s library access. 

“Sometimes, when people would accrue overdue fees, they would be too embarrassed to return the materials,” Sean Jones, WPL communication specialist said. “This amnesty week gets our materials back but also eliminates fees for patrons.”

While overdue fees seem like a logical system to ensure the return of materials, they often create financial burdens instead of compliance with due dates. This burden leads to patrons being unable to access the free services at the library.

“Before we eliminated overdue fees, the cost was 25 cents per material for each day it was overdue,” Jones said. “People think it’s not that much, but when you have a stack of books that are a couple days late, that is a huge barrier to them using the library. If you have more than ten dollars due on your account, you’re not able to use the library at all.”

Loss of access due to late fees contradicts the library’s mission to provide its resources to Wichita’s population. The amnesty week also aims to highlight the library’s emphasis on what it has to offer.

“Your library is trained to find you factual, correct information,” Jones said. “We are also an entertainment hub. We have books, movies, music, and you can even check out telescopes.”

WPL’s vast selection of resources gives Wichitans the opportunity to learn and connect for free. It is no surprise that many feel a strong connection to the institution. Mona Jesri, WSU freshman and avid reader, uses the library often.

“Having access to the library allowed me to find my passion for reading and has given me a safe, quiet place to study,” Jesri said. “I can definitely see how fines discourage people from going to the library and accessing that.”

Jesri was surprised to hear this change was occurring at WPL. The decision raises questions as to how the library plans on encouraging patrons to abide by due dates.

“I think it’s important that they come up with a new system to ensure books get returned,” Jesri said.