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Hennepin County libraries eliminate late fees

Hennepin County Board commissioners said the move will increase accessibility.
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The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners has approved a measure that will eliminate late fees at county libraries.

According to a Tuesday announcement, the measure was approved as part of the board’s 2021 budget. The move also means all Hennepin County library cards returned to a $0 balance on Wednesday.

Eliminating fees makes libraries more accessible, said Board Chair Marion Greene.

“The elimination of late fines from the Hennepin County Library system is a change that will reduce disparities and increase access to our collections,” Greene said in a statement.

“We know that fines and fees disproportionately affect low-income people and communities of color, and we are doing what we can to ensure that everyone is welcome to utilize our services regardless of their ability to pay.”

But due dates will still apply to items loaned out at Hennepin County libraries. Items that are 41 days will be considered unreturned, and patrons will be responsible for replacement costs.

Hennepin County joins other library systems across the country in eliminating late fees in the name of accessibility. St. Paul libraries did it in 2019 and saw a boost in library use as a result. The San Diego Public Library system eliminated late fees in 2018, while The Chicago Public Library system did so a year later.

Hennepin County libraries are still operating under COVID-19 restrictions. This month, libraries including Linden Hills, Long Lake, Osseo and Pierre Bottineau will open for some services. 

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