The Superior Public Library and its branches no longer charge late fees on local library materials.

The change went into effect Jan. 1. Existing fines for Superior patrons on Superior-owned items have also been waived. Lost or damaged items and overdue materials from other libraries will still incur fines and replacement costs.

The move was made possible by the Superior City Council, which in September approved allocating $10,000 of its annual budget to cover library fines. Library Director Sue Heskin said the library board currently budgets $10,000 for late fees. By eliminating the library fines, she said about 500 people, including about 100 children, will again have access to the library’s resources.

Many libraries around the country are increasing accessibility through library materials by abolishing late fees, a potential economic barrier to access.

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“The Superior Public Library is committed to equity and to supporting literacy efforts in our community,” said library board president Rick Arnold. “A fine of $5 can feel very different to families with different economic situations. We want to encourage everyone in our community to check out material for their families and use all the great services our library offers.”

The vast majority of patrons return materials promptly so others can enjoy them, Heskin said.

“We don’t think that will change," she said.

Studies show that libraries that have eliminated overdue fines experience the same rates of return as libraries that charge fines.

“We don’t want to penalize busy families, but encourage them to make the library an important part of their active lives,” Heskin said.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine voiced his support for the measure.

“The founding principle of our public library is the radical idea that free access to knowledge is good for democracy. In Superior, I’m proud to see our library upholding their values by removing barriers for our citizens,” he said.

Lost or damaged items

After being overdue for 28 days, items are assumed lost and the account will be billed for replacement costs. If bills for lost items are not resolved within 30 days, the account may be sent to collections.

Accounts sent to collections will incur a $10 referral fee that is not waived. For more information about the library's new “fines free” policy, visit the library’s website, superiorlibrary.org.