Library drops fines for youth
Waupaca seeks to make library more accessible
Starting Jan. 2, the Waupaca Area Public Library no longer charges overdue fees for children’s and teen items.
In October, the Waupaca Library Board of Trustees adopted a new Strategic Plan to create greater access for the community.
At its Dec. 18 meeting, the board approved an additional hour of service.
Starting Jan. 3, the library will remain open until 6 p.m. on Fridays.
Based on the Wisconsin State Standards for Libraries, the board found Waupaca’s current hours of operation to be deficient.
Waupaca’s library is open hours 57 hours per week, less than the 40th percentile for libraries with similar service populations.
Similarly, a comparison with four other libraries of similar size found the Waupaca Library had the least weekly hours.
At the same Dec. 18 meeting, the board approved eliminating overdue fees for children’s and teen items.
There has recently been a movement towards libraries adopting policies that eliminate overdue fees.
Dawn Wacek, youth services manager for the La Crosse Public Library, said in a TEDx Talk that charging overdue fees does not advance the mission of libraries.
“Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners,” Wacek said. “But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines.”
Community conversations held as part of the Waupaca library’s strategic plan creation validated the idea that overdue fees create barriers for those who have limited resources.
According to the plan, “Elimination of overdue fees will allow equitable use of the library for all community members.”
“This is just the first step in a bold new direction for our library,” said Library Director Peg Burington. “I’m looking forward to changes that will make the library even more accessible and welcoming.”