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Are Library Fines a Thing of the past?

The Salt Lake City Public Library system has joined a growing national trend among public libraries -- it will no longer charge a fine for the late return of checked-out books and other media materials. In 2012, the American Library Association urged facilities to drop fines because they create barriers to library use. While the fines are typically small, they can add up and represent an untenable expense for people on the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale.

The new policy introduced by the Salt Lake City Library Board follows similar decisions around the United States, including library districts in northern Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and Ohio.

Better late than never:

  • The Salt Lake City Public Library system expects to forego an anticipated $75,000 USD in revenue by not collecting late fees-- less than 1 percent of its entire operating budget.
  • Library officials who have made similar decisions claim that fines deter the people who need books the most. They say that removing fines can increase library use and better serve the community.
  • In Ohio, Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinski explained: “We’ve had 150 years to try to teach customers timeliness or responsibility, and I don’t know that that’s our greatest success story.”
Discussion Comments
By anon998423 — On Jun 09, 2017

At my library, when you return the item by the due date, there's no fine.

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