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Omaha Public Library looks to eliminate overdue fees, City Council holds public hearing

The ordinance was suggested by the library's board
Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 19:27:42-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Public Library is looking to eliminate overdue fees. The library's Board of Trustees and Mayor Stothert suggested to the Omaha City Council to make it into an ordinance.

The board took this step because they believe it will help create a more equitable city.

"Libraries are about free and equitable access to information. When you put up financial barriers for people who don’t have those funds to just pay off their fines, we’re eliminating our whole mission. It really doesn’t help them in any way," said Emily Getzschman, marketing manager for the Omaha Public Library.

Getzschman said the overall impact eliminating these fees will have is not much on the library's revenue. Overdue fees are 25 cents per day per item and it caps out at $5.

"The actual amount that we collect from fines or fees is actually very, very small and what we really looked at before suggesting that we eliminate fines is how much of an impact it would have on our budget. We found that it was a third of a percent of our overall budget which isn’t much so for us. The benefits of eliminating fines are far more than anything we would collect from gathering those fines," Getzschman said.

While some might think eliminating fees will deter people from returning the books, library representatives think it won't make much of a difference. Getzschman said she believes those who are going to return books, or those who aren't going to, are going to do so regardless of whether or not there's a fine.

Fines for items that are never returned, as well as replacement fees, will still be in place.

There were no opponents of the ordinance at the council meeting and council members did show support.