Good news has emerged for many area library users. Most library fines are about to become a thing of the past in Eau Claire.
Library officials say right now about 8,000 people are blocked from checking out materials due to fines of $10 or more. Starting Monday, Jan. 1, the public library is eliminating late fees on nearly all of it's 220,000 materials.
"The biggest thing with getting rid of fines is to get people to come back to the library and to visit us again," said Jonathan Lebakken, reference assistant at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. "A lot of people may have racked up fines and been like 'Well, I can never come back here again, because I can't check out books. I have too many fines.' But now, they can come back, because we're getting rid of all old fines that were part of their library card."
They say many of those with blocked accounts are kids and low-income residents. Waiving the fines will give those in need of library resources a chance to come back debt-free. However, late fees will still be charged for kits, equipment and materials from other libraries. And fees will still be charged for damaged items and items that are never returned.