Libraries in Omaha will no longer charge daily fines for overdue books.
Omaha Public Library officials said they decided to permanently close the book on daily overdue fines to ease barriers to using the library and to encourage patrons to return materials without fear of punishment.
The new policy, approved by the Library Board in March and the City Council last week, applies retroactively to existing daily overdue fines. So if you owed the library money, you’re off the hook.
Other fines for missing materials (items not returned after 21 days overdue) or damaged items will still be charged, according to a press release. But if an item is eventually returned in good condition and can be returned to the collection, the fee will be waived.
“Overdue fines only accounted for a fraction of a percent of OPL’s overall budget,” Laura Marlane, the library system’s executive director, said in the release. “This change will not adversely affect OPL’s budget, but it will help to ease the burden of an additional expense during a time when many people are working to restore normalcy to their lives.”
Omaha’s 12 public libraries have not charged fines on overdue materials since closing their doors in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
When libraries reopened in September, the Library Board voted to continue waiving daily overdue fines until operations returned to normal.