The West Fargo Public Library no longer charges fines for overdue materials following a policy change approved by the West Fargo Public Library Board of Directors. No new fines will accumulate on accounts except in the case of lost or damaged items.

"Under this new policy, patrons with overdue items won't be turned away due to financial circumstances," Library Director Carissa Hansen said. “This is an incredibly important step for us, as we aim to be accessible to all people regardless of socioeconomic status. We don’t want patrons to avoid the library or be unable to use our resources due to inability to pay a fine.”

All previously assessed overdue fines on library accounts will also be forgiven, however patrons may still see fines temporarily reflected on their library accounts while the library works to remove them over the next few weeks. Patrons are not responsible for paying any overdue fines.

Going forward, patrons will still have to pay to replace lost or damaged items however, materials that are 28 days overdue are automatically billed to the patron account and the patron will be notified. If those materials are returned in good condition, the fee will be removed from the account. 

"We are so excited to take this step that many libraries across the country have taken to reduce economic barriers to using public libraries,” Hansen said. “This change is especially important now as it comes at a time when many are facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to support them and be a resource to them.”

The library has not charged late fines on children’s items since 2018, and this change makes the rest of the items in the library fine-free as well.

This policy change follows the library’s recent reopening. The West Fargo Public Library is now open to the public Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to wear masks, sanitize frequently and follow social distancing protocols while visiting the library.