Detroit Public Library just waived all late fees


  • Susan Montgomery /

Looks like you can hang on to that copy of Michelle Obama's Becoming a bit longer without the anxiety of a late fee.

The Detroit Public Library decided to do away with late fees at all of its 22 branches in the city starting on Sunday, Sept. 1. Fines, research has shown, disproportionately affect low-income library patrons.

"Libraries are about providing access, and going fine free is one more way we're increasing access to our collections and services," said Kathryn Dowgiewicz, public relations specialist with the library, according to Crain’s. "With no fines, the Detroit Public Library will be more accessible and welcoming than ever before."

Late fees accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the library’s revenue, according to Crain’s. Any library patron who had previously incurred late fees can now return any items that are not damaged or lost without paying a fine, as all past late fees will be waived. Going forward, patrons with late items will not be able to check out additional books and materials until after the overdue items are returned.

This is the first time in 154 years that DPL will not charge overdue fines, according to a Tuesday press release. DPL made the decision in hopes of attracting more patrons to the library so that they may take advantage of its offerings, including public computers, public Wi-Fi, educational databases, streaming services, e-books, movies, and music — as well as books.

“If for nothing else, come back to DPL for all of our great programming and exhibitions that will engage, enlighten and entertain,” the press release reads. “So come see what’s been happening ‘since you’ve been gone.’”

The Detroit library system is the largest public library system in Michigan, and the move to do away with late fees is in line with similar decisions being made across the state and nationally.

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