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Indianapolis Public Libraries goes 'fine free,' forgives $2M of debt

Martinsdale Brightwood Library.PNG
Posted at 12:44 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 12:44:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Public Libraries forgave more than $2 million in overdue fines from people, as it is now “fine free.”

The new policy began Jan. 4 and aims to erase barriers to library use across the city.

Library officials say the fines disproportionately affect low-income households, preventing equity in Indianapolis.

“Our goal is to provide free and equitable access to all,” said IndyPL CEO Jackie Nytes. “By removing the barrier of fines, we are more equipped to provide resources and opportunities to all members of our community.”

The $2 million in overdue fines came from more than 87,000 IndyPL accounts.

People borrowing materials from the library are still required to return them on time. If materials aren’t returned are renewed, they are considered lost. Patrons are still responsible for those costs.

In Indianapolis, many of the zip codes with the highest Library debt are designated as target impact areas by Mayor Joe Hogsett, including Martindale-Brightwood (46218), the near eastside (46201), the far eastside (46235), Mapleton-Fall Creek (46205), and the Meadows (46205), according to the library.

Fines resulted in about $477,000 of revenue for the library in 2019, which was down from about $900,000 in 2014.

“If you have been hesitant to use the library for fear of getting late fines or because you owed late fines, those concerns should no longer stand in your way,” Nytes said. “We have so much for our community to enjoy.”