In ARTICLES A-Z, Education

We’re Over Overdues!

Santa Cruz Public Libraries to Eliminate Overdue Fines Starting September 1

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL) is pleased to announce the elimination of overdue fines for all borrowers.

Beginning September 1st, 2021, SCPL will no longer charge overdue fines. In addition to eliminating future fines, existing overdue fines will be waived. Damage and replacement charges for lost and long overdue materials will still be charged.

In January 2019, the American Library Association issued a resolution on monetary fines as a form of social inequity. In March 2021, California Assembly Member Evan Low introduced House Resolution 31, which is sponsored by the State Librarian, and supported by the California Library Association, that encourage cities, counties, and special districts to work with their public libraries to consider eliminating late fines for library patrons due to equity issues.

SCPL values free access, and is committed to equitable library service. We strive to remove barriers for those who can least afford to lose access to library materials. In early 2020, about 11,500 people were blocked from checking out library materials because they owed more than $10 on their library accounts. Over the past few years, the library has taken steps towards making this value a reality by eliminating small fines for replacement library cards, interlibrary loans, and in September 2018, eliminating the 25 cent per day overdue fine on children’s and teen materials. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the library implemented autorenewal of library materials. These actions are reducing barriers to access of library resources and services for our community.

Eliminating overdue fines does not eliminate due dates. Borrowers will still be expected to return library materials on time, and checkout periods on library materials will remain unchanged. If an item is long overdue, the borrower will be charged the replacement cost of the item. If an item is damaged, the borrower will be charged according to the current damage/missing parts schedule.

Research and experience from libraries that have recently gone fine-free show that overdue fines do not affect how fast people bring back books; return rates are the same before and after libraries go fine-free. And some libraries get more materials back after going fine-free.

If you haven’t visited the library because you owe overdue fines, we welcome you back.

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