On March 18, 2021, the Omaha Public Library Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to make OPL fines free permanently. An ordinance was then presented to Omaha’s City Council for approval. During their April 27, 2021, meeting, council members unanimously voted to approve the ordinance to eliminate daily overdue fines permanently. The action is retroactive, thereby waiving existing daily overdue fines on library accounts.
The elimination of daily overdue fines intends to alleviate barriers to using the library and to encourage patrons to return library materials without fear of punitive action. Other fees associated with the replacement of missing items (not returned after 21 days overdue) or damaged materials will still be charged. If items that have been charged a replacement fee are returned to the library in good condition and can be returned to the collection, that fee will be waived.
“Overdue fines only accounted for a fraction of a percent of OPL’s overall budget,” said OPL Executive Director Laura Marlane. “This change will not adversely affect OPL’s budget, but it will help to the ease the burden of an additional expense during a time when many people are working to restore normalcy to their lives.”
OPL has not charged fines on overdue materials since closing its doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon OPL’s reopening in September 2020, the Board of Trustees—the nine-member body which governs OPL—voted to continue waiving daily overdue fines until library operations returned to normal, without restrictions due to Nebraska Directed Health Measures or capacity limits.
OPL administration is working on implementation of policies and procedures to eliminate daily overdue fines. Read FAQs on this topic here.