Happy Or Whatever Social Issues

Libraries Prove They Can Shake These Late Fees With Great Ease

Why Libraries Are Giving Up On Late Fees

Why Libraries Are Giving Up On Late Fees

That lost library book we had almost managed to convince ourselves no longer existed. The book that became the second reason we’ve avoided going to the library since the waning days of the second Bush administration. (The first being Amazon, of course.)

At this moment, every library delinquent faces the same dilemma: return the erstwhile book, or put it back in whatever box it came from and pretend this whole unpleasant incident never happened. Weird questions start running through one’s mind: “Does the library stop trying to collect the fines at any point? Does compounding interest accrue? Can they charge a fine that exceeds the book’s replacement value? Can I be arrested for holding onto a library book for over a decade? Do I need a lawyer?”

As it turns out, library fines, generally speaking, don’t become a major financial hurdle. According to recent reports in The Wall Street Journal, the average fine is about 17 cents per day that a book is late – and are capped at $5, $10 or the cost of the books borrowed. But, as St. Paul Public Library Director Catherine Penkert told the publication, it’s not just about the money.

It’s the shame of having to face a librarian and sheepishly have to pull out a dollar bill and admit you are not able to handle the simplest possible adult responsibility.

“I didn’t even want to tell you, ‘I have fines,’” Penkert told the Journal of what she normally hears at work while collecting library fines from friends and family in the community, who usually wear a rather pained hangdog expression.

But perhaps the scourge of library fines is migrating to the past. This week, Chicago became the largest metro area to officially say no to library fines – joining St. Paul, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas; and Oakland, California – in what has become known of late as the library fee amnesty movement that has been quietly (they are libraries after, all) picking up steam in 2019.

Just Bring it Back! No More Late Fees at La Grange Public Library!

September 12, 2019

Effective this week, anyone who checks out materials from the La Grange Public Library will no longer accrue late fees for materials returned after the due date.

Partially due to the introduction of auto-renewals on library items in 2017, overdue fine revenue has decreased significantly in recent years. This has put the La Grange Public Library in a position where late fee revenue has no significant budgetary impact, which helped make this change possible.

“We believe this will result in more equitable and increased access and utilization of our services, which is what the library is all about,” said Charity Gallardo, La Grange Public Library Executive Director.

“Late fees for overdue library materials serve as a barrier to access for those who can least afford it. They also tend to disproportionately impact children and families who often check out large numbers of materials and can find their cards blocked pending payment if those many items are even a few days late. This change means if our materials are returned for someone else to use, that borrower’s card returns to good standing and their access is restored.”

Chicago to become largest US public library system with no fees

CHICAGO — Chicago’s public libraries will no longer charge late fees for overdue books.

The previous policy kept people from checking out books or using library resources like computers, if they owed more than $10.chicago library

As of Tuesday, Oct. 1, $3.9 million worth of late fees will no longer exist, and there will be no late fees moving forward.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said youth and low income people are disproportionately locked out of the system because of the fines.

Checked out items will automatically be renewed up to 15 times. The only time the system will lock a person out is if they never return a borrowed book or item.

This will make Chicago the largest public library system in the country to have no fees.


A growing number of public libraries across the country are revising their policies to eliminate overdue fines.

Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR

For nearly a decade, Diana Ramirez hadn’t been able to take a book home from the San Diego Public Library. Her borrowing privileges were suspended, she was told, because of a mere $10 in late fees, an amount that had grown to $30 over the years.

Ramirez, who is now 23 and stays in Tijuana with her mother, attends an alternative education program in San Diego that helps students earn high school diplomas. To her, the debt she owed to the library system was an onerous sum. Even worse, it removed a critical resource from her life.

“I felt disappointed in myself because I wasn’t able to check out books,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t able to use the computers for doing my homework or filling out job applications. I didn’t own a computer, so the library was my only option to access a computer.”

In April, Ramirez finally caught a break. The San Diego Public Library wiped out all outstanding late fines for patrons, a move that followed the library system’s decision to end its overdue fines. Ramirez was among the more than 130,000 beneficiaries of the policy shift, cardholders whose library accounts were newly cleared of debt.

%d bloggers like this: