The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to eliminate fines for overdue books and other materials from county libraries.
Supervisor Janice Hahn proposed the change.
“Library late fines do much more harm than good,” Hahn said. “They make up less than 1% of the library’s revenue and they can dissuade people from using the library’s services. Our L.A. County libraries are full of great resources and we want people to take advantage of them.”
Hahn said the change would take effect immediately. The board also directed the county librarian to work with county counsel to waive all fees for library patrons and write off unpaid fines.
“This is a critical step in removing barriers and opening access to all library customers,” County Librarian Skye Patrick said. “This important initiative will help us do our everyday work of fostering learning experiences, sparking curiosity, making connections and building skills for all L.A. County residents.”
The cost of collecting fees has exceeded the amount collected over the past two years, officials said. Hahn noted that other large urban library systems have adopted a fine-free model, including libraries in the city of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver and Columbus, Ohio.
Research shows that such policies have resulted in a 200% increase in returned books and other materials and a higher demand for library cards, according to Hahn.
Hahn quoted to her colleagues from a Los Angeles Times editorial that ran Tuesday.
“Library fines are doing neither the public nor the public libraries much good,” the Times editorial board wrote. “Our society shouldn’t allow 25 cents a day to stand between families and free access to books.”
The Los Angeles County system includes 85 libraries — including local libraries in Lancaster, Quartz Hill and Littlerock — that are once again open for business.
4 comments for "LA County does away with fines for overdue books"
So all unreturned items will now be paid for by the taxpayer once again.
Tim Scott says
They pretty much always were. An amazing number of people would “fine dodge” by just not returning the book at all and just never checking anything out again. By eliminating fines the book may be returned late, but it will get returned, avoiding the cost of replacement. It’s counterintuitive, but this is a move many libraries have made and it consistently shows up as net positive financially.
this will cost literally cents! how will we pay for it!
Larry Grooms says
Elimination of library fines for overdue books is a long overdue step to promote literacy. Those fees have always been counter-productive, hitting hardest at the people who needed a free library system the most, and who were the least able to pay. Late-book fines were another case of government spending dollars to chase dimes. Thanks, L.A. County Supervisors for doing the right thing.