No more overdue fines on Children’s Library materials.

By Laurie Fels
December 9, 2019

Wauwatosa Library Eliminates Overdue Fines on Children’s Library Materials

(December 9, 2019) As a means to improve access to the library, the Wauwatosa Library Board made the decision that the Wauwatosa Public Library will no longer collect overdue fines on their Children’s Library materials, effective December 9, 2019.

Since 2017, Library Board trustees and library staff have been researching eliminating overdue fines as a way to make the library more accessible to the community. The research shows that small fines do not have any impact on return rates. Additionally, the American Library Association passed a resolution in 2019 that monetary fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services and encouraged libraries to scrutinize fines for potential barriers to access. In the summer of 2019, library staff found that over 70% of blocked Wauwatosa Library cards were blocked solely because of overdue fines. These individuals had returned all of their library materials.

“Part of our library’s mission speaks to equitable access to information and encouraging lifelong discovery. Having overdue fines on children’s items was in conflict with that mission,” says Library Board President Bill Andrae.

Patrons will no longer be assessed overdue fines on Children’s Library materials that are returned late, and existing overdue fines on Children’s Library materials are being waived. Patrons will still be charged for unreturned items, and they won’t be able to check out any additional materials until they return the items or pay the replacement fee. The Wauwatosa Public Library sends reminders when a due date approaches and has passed. These come in the form of a text, email, or phone call, depending on your communication preferences. Those with existing overdue fines on Wauwatosa Children’s Library materials will not have to pay those fines.

The Wauwatosa Library will still issue overdue fines for other materials outside of the Children’s Library. Also, materials from other libraries are subject to that library’s lending policy and may accrue overdue fines.

Eliminating overdue fines on Children’s Library materials adds $36,000 per year to the Library’s portion of the city budget. The impact of this increase on the property tax bill of an average home would be $1.54 per year, or $0.13 per month.

An informational Eliminating Children’s Late Fines Handout is available at the library.


The City of Wauwatosa, population 48,000, is the hub of what’s happening now. Wauwatosa is central to the Metro-Milwaukee region and is a destination retail and office development center. Home to a talented and skilled workforce, Wauwatosa is pivotal to innovation in medical research, information technology, and advanced manufacturing. Wauwatosa offers vibrant and well-established housing choices, always walkable to shops, restaurants and entertainment. Our engaged citizenry with over 30 neighborhood associations make Wauwatosa’s neighborhoods some of the best in the Midwest.
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