Overdue library fees are a problem. The longer you wait, the higher the fee- thus the less likely you are to actually pay that fee. Yes, you can get in trouble, but haven’t we heard those stories of books that are decades overdue? According to Mental Floss, there’s even a book that is 221 years overdue… Let’s not look at the overdue fee for that…
But there’s another problem with overdue library fees: It discourages people from utilizing libraries to their fullest potential.
One library in Salt Lake City decided it was time to stop charging patrons for overdue books. In the past, library users were charged 20 cents a day for overdue books and 50 cents a day for overdue movies (although online streaming means minimal movies were rented out, we’re guessing).
Starting July 1st, just over a month from today, “overdue fines at the Salt Lake City Public Library will be filed under the Dewey Decimal class 930 — ancient history,” the library said in the best, and nerdiest way possible in a press release.
But why did this lovely library decide to end overdue fines? The reason is quite simple.
“The potential for taking on a large fine for a small infraction can keep community members from taking full advantage of their library’s collection, checking out fewer materials in order to keep their fine risk low. Others choose not to use their library at all,” the library stated. Simply put: They want to keep their patrons coming to the library. If a patron is afraid to check out books because they fear a pending fee, they are less likely to take out a book, or multiple books.
Library fines, according to the City Library Executive Director, work against a library’s mission.
City Library Executive Director Peter Bromberg boldly claimed that overdue fines are “in opposition to the Library’s core equitable service, fostering early literacy, and barrier-free access to information and services.” He also stated that fines disproportionately impact “children and community members with the least financial resources.”
Lastly, while overdue fees provide some source of a revenue, the Library claimed it was only .3% of the library’s budget.
What do you think? Should more libraries end overdue fees?