Dawn Wacek: A librarian's case against overdue book fines
Dawn Wacek - Librarian
Dawn Wacek advocates for equitable library service for all community members. Full bio
to the people who visit us
into our library are my friends
and their futures.
or a movie that delights them.
have this wonderful reputation
and statements of purpose
our community to the broader world.
important to us as libraries,
to create a better world.
a more engaged and empathetic world.
is even more important.
that working class families
as the "30 million word gap."
is that children in these families
in their learned language.
as they enter school,
poorer reading skills,
not just our day-to-day conversation,
we share, of around 10,000.
from a children's book
in the children's room, Eric Carle.
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar."
Slowly,' said the Sloth."
quiet and boring.
and I like to live in peace.
slowly, slowly, slowly.'"
example from one book in our library
to get the same idea across to children.
visiting us at the library,
are struggling financially.
are living in poverty,
or anywhere safe to live.
who comes in after school
never read at grade level.
by the time kids enter the third grade,
to income level.
in addressing these gaps?
be more successful, more educated
free and equitable access
socioeconomic background to words.
of early literacy:
reading and writing.
and job-skills training.
for our community members
by charging fines and fees of our patrons.
to check out library materials
experiencing the most poverty,
is considered economically disadvantaged,
of the neighborhood.
but they hold true nationwide.
that charge fines,
number of people blocked from use.
was so worried about this,
that keeps poor families out of libraries.
in a Lyft in Atlanta last year,
about libraries, as we do.
visiting her local library, she loved it.
with three children of her own,
to get a library card,
another credit card that I can't pay."
have experimented with eliminating fines,
that took away children's fines,
in child card applications
of the fines they might accrue,
what we have to offer.
we're champions of democracy
every citizen can educate themselves.
early literacy has
and eliminate the word gap.
and you make a mistake,
that anyone in this room could make --
sits by your back door
longer than it should,
so much anymore,
we're going to make you pay for it.
you're out of luck.
for a lot of years.
over 500 dollars in late fines.
and I certainly know how the system works.
at the library,
under the sofa.
to be able to pay
over the last several years.
had the means to do it.
and continue to operate as we always have,
and no longer are welcome back?
to operate under a model that hurts
to teach people responsibility.
that there might be ways to do that
the resources collectively in a community,
movie for too long,
wants to watch it, it's not fair.
often love their libraries,
to sustain the services we offer.
all of these things in a variety of ways
our most vulnerable populations.
to a Netflix model.
you return them.
you can't check more things out,
it's all forgiven, it's fine.
to their library patrons,
where you bring in canned goods,
where you can read off your fines.
at their counter,
10 or 20 percent off your fines that day.
your late materials
that did an amnesty day last year,
5,000 users who had been blocked.
more than 700,000 items that were overdue.
that was 100 years overdue.
but I know from experience
from the library
the authority of the librarian
I've been a librarian for 15 years
in a library in decades,
she lost a book.
jump through hoops.
at the right times.
extra food to share.
they need to be literate.
to use the library again,
of fines altogether.
I've forgotten a money piece,
in library budgets.
a stable source of revenue.
over the last few decades.
people's ability to pay was hit, as well.
that we've got at the library
eliminating their fines,
so much as the idea of money.
surprised to know
are about one and a half percent
or a large library system,
for most libraries to absorb.
fines cost us money to collect.
all of the ways that we collect fines,
to remind people of their fines,
can cost libraries money.
cost for libraries.
is standing there,
sometimes arguing with people about fines.
save money in our libraries.
to reallocate our staff time
those missions we talked about.
to come away understanding
to do what we think they do.
how much we should fine, it isn't new.
for almost 100 years.
that the reason libraries fine
of getting materials back on time
because we've always fined.
is to put their mission first.
if their community members ask it of them.
I hope you'll visit your public library
and community members
how important literacy is
are truly for everyone,
and embrace their entire community.
About the speaker:Dawn Wacek - Librarian
Dawn Wacek advocates for equitable library service for all community members.
Why you should listen
More than fifteen years in librarianship, Dawn Wacek has eliminated barriers to access in urban and rural libraries. She has helped create fine reduction programs and developed free and open access policies everywhere she has worked.
Wacek is the Youth Services Manager of the La Crosse Public Library in Wisconsin, where she is working on increasing community relationships and collaborations to better connect all users to their library.
Dawn Wacek | Speaker | TED.com