Fine Free Starting October 1

slide advertising fine free Oct 1

No more late fees at the Baraboo Public Library starting October 1

* No fines for late items checked out from our library
* Old fees for late items checked out from our library will be removed from your account
* Charges for lost or damaged items still apply

Starting October 1st, the Baraboo Public Library is going fine free.  There will be no more late fees assessed on overdue items checked out from our library, and past late fees on items checked out from our library will be waived. Eliminating these overdue fines aligns the Baraboo Public Library with a national trend to eliminate late fees.  Some other Sauk County libraries are already fine free, including Kilbourn Public Library in Wisconsin Dells, Ruth Culver Community Library in Prairie du Sac, George Culver Community Library in Sauk City, and Spring Green Public Library. There are now 24 fine free libraries in South Central Library System.

A Welcoming Environment

Going fine free reinforces the Baraboo Public Library’s goal to create a welcoming environment for all, and its commitment to provide excellent customer service. Library Director Jessica Bergin emphasized, "We want to make the library more accessible to everyone in our community. Charging daily late fees prevents people who need the library from using it, and there is little evidence to suggest fines actually influence people to return items on time. For people who can afford to pay, fines are not a strong incentive. For people who find it a financial burden, overdue fines prevent them from coming back to the library."

Budget is Strong Without Fees

Bergin points out that eliminating late fees will not be a burden on the library budget.  It also presents an opportunity for library users who have been blocked from checking out materials due to fines to reconnect with the library. Bergin stressed, "The library is in the fortunate position of having strong funding from the city and county as well as support from our active Friends of the Library group and local donors. Overdue fines represent a small part of the library budget - around 1% in recent years - so the library will be able to continue offering a high level of service without relying on overdue fines. We hope to welcome back library users who have been blocked because of fines and bring new people in to discover all the library has to offer.

Fine Free—Part of a New Era

The timing of the fine free initiative is not a coincidence. Bergin stated “We have heard from many people in our community that this is a time of financial hardship for them due to the pandemic. We also know that we have students in our area who are attending school remotely from home and so are relying more heavily on our services.  It is important to us to be responsive to these needs in our community.” Beyond the current economic issues, Bergin expanded “This is an exciting time for our library and our community, between going fine free and construction starting this spring on our building addition and renovation, this will truly be a new era for the library.”

Even though late fees will soon disappear, fees for lost and damaged materials will still apply. Late fees for items checked out at other South Central Library System libraries may still apply if the loaning library charges fees. For questions or library information visit, or call 608-356-6166.