Library Eliminates Overdue Fines on All Children and Teen Materials, Forgives Past Fines

Press Release

DES MOINES, IOWA — Monday, November 16, 2020 — Beginning Monday, Nov. 16, the Des Moines Public Library is eliminating overdue fines on all children and teen materials and will stop collecting previously accrued overdue fines on those items.

As a result, nearly 2,000 customers with library cards that were blocked due to unpaid fines on children and teen materials will be able to use the library again after those fines are forgiven. (Some customers may need to reactivate their cards first.)

“This decision provides many Des Moines families with new opportunities and ensures that the library continues to be a welcoming place to each and every member of our community,” said Susan A. Woody, Des Moines Public Library Director. “We know that removing barriers to service is important, especially now, and especially for our youngest readers, and this is a crucial step in doing so.”

By clearing these fines, the Des Moines Public Library hopes to welcome back families who stopped checking out books and stopped using library services due to an inability to pay overdue fines on materials checked out for children and teens.

“This action by the Des Moines Public Library will benefit some of Des Moines’ most vulnerable residents, and allows hundreds and hundreds of families to once again take advantage of the books and other valuable library services in their communities,” Mayor Frank Cownie said.

When all locations of the Des Moines Public Library first closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25-cent daily overdue fine on all materials was temporarily suspended. While overdue fines on children and teen materials will now be eliminated, overdue fines on adult books will once again begin accruing beginning Monday, Nov. 16 — but at a reduced rate of 10 cents per day.

Additional details about our updated fine and fee policies:

  • The library is reinstating the $1 fee to borrow non-children’s DVDs that was temporarily suspended. (Children’s DVDs remain free to check out.)
  • Overdue fines for non-children’s DVDs will remain 50 cents per day.
  • DVDs will once again be checked out for one-week periods, but DVD series/sets will be checked out for three weeks.
  • Customers will still be charged for all lost and damaged materials – including children and teen materials that are lost and/or damaged.

Anyone who has been holding onto overdue children and teen books and DVDs are encouraged to return those items to any of our six libraries. The library is attempting to reaching out to each cardholder with accounts that are now being unblocked to inform them how to reactivate their library cards. If you think this change affects your library account, you can call us at (515) 283-4152.

Go to for more details about our new overdue fines policy. 

 About the Des Moines Public Library
Founded in 1866, the Des Moines Public Library is the public library system for the City of Des Moines. With six branches and a collection of more than 500,000 items, the Des Moines Public Library is the largest public library system in the state of Iowa.