Fines for overdue items will become a thing of the past for Kent District Library patrons beginning June 1. This change removes a barrier for people who cannot afford their fines and wish to use the library.
The elimination of late fines is expected to spark an increase in circulation of library materials and encourage inactive patrons to return to the library.
“Each year, hundreds of patrons stop using library services entirely because they are deterred by late fines,” explains Michelle Boisvenue-Fox, Director of Programming, Outreach and Collection Services for KDL. “There’s a ‘shame’ element to late fines that does more harm than good. Eliminating the shame and late fines will make library resources more accessible and create a more encouraging experience for more people.”
Years ago, revenue from late fines was fairly significant, but the advent of automatic renewals for checked-out materials has reduced it significantly. Currently, revenue from late fines is almost completely offset by the cost of administrating and collecting the fines.
“The time that staff typically devotes to managing late fines will now be spent on library services, which is a better service and value for tax payers,” said Boisvenue-Fox.
Last year, KDL eliminated late fines for patrons who are active military or veterans. Around the same time, KDL leadership considered eliminating late fines for students. Upon discussing the idea with front-line staff in the branches, it was decided that becoming a fine-free library system for all patrons would be simpler and provide a greater benefit for everyone involved. The proposal was presented to the Board of Trustees at the March 21 meeting and was unanimously approved.
Other libraries around the country, such as the Salt Lake City Public Library, have eliminated late fines and shared positive results.
As of June 1, all unpaid fines for overdue materials will be forgiven. Card-holders who were prohibited from checking out materials due to unpaid late fines will once again be able to check out materials. Patrons will continue to receive notifications of due dates and past-due items. Items that are more than 35 days past due will be considered ‘lost’ and charged to the patron. The library will also continue to charge patrons for damaged items.
The elimination of late fines coincides with the kick off of KDL’s Summer Reading program, which fosters reading and event participation for all ages.