No more late fees: Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library no longer charging fees

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 2:32 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - From New York City to San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, public libraries across the country are doing away with late fees.

You can add Bismarck and Mandan to that list too.

They’re no longer charging late fees and will waive existing fees for overdue books and other materials.

Glenn Muske is a regular at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library.

“There are so many books I want to read,” he said.

He’s always reading a book or two, or three.

“I like a little bit of everything,” Muske said.

From books about North Dakota history to mysteries and nonfiction titles, Muske reads them all.

“I read a lot of books my wife calls ‘boy books,’” he laughed.

And, he’s got a list of even more books he wants to read. Now, he can take a little more time to get through those books without worrying about paying a late fee.

The Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library stopped collecting late fees when they closed because of the pandemic. Now, 18 months later, they’ve decided to do away with late fees completely.

“We’re supposed to serve everybody in the community. That’s our job and we weren’t doing that,” said Matt Hovland, head of circulation services at the library.

It’s an idea Hovland had been researching long before the pandemic.

“They’re a barrier to library use,” he said. “People would get library overdue fines and not be able to use the library anymore. It was a barrier for some that they wouldn’t’ want to sign up for library cards because they knew they might have stuff overdue.”

He hopes this new policy might bring more people like Muske to the library and inspire then to get lost in a good book.

Hovland says if you borrow a book through the Bismarck Public Library, but it comes from another library that still charges late fees, you’ll have to pay those.

And, if a book is lost or ruined, borrowers will be required to pay a replacement fee.

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