No more late fines on books at King County Libraries

May 9, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: May 10, 2023, 10:01 am

King County Library...

King County Libraries (KCLS) have announced late fines for overdue books will end May 9. (Courtesy of the King County Library System)

(Courtesy of the King County Library System)

King County Libraries (KCLS) have announced late fines for overdue books will end May 9.

The Board of Trustees heard from staff who told them what they believed to be the impact of late fines.

Part of Seattle’s $213 million levy would eliminate overdue library fines</strong

The findings:

  • Late fines worsen inequality and discourage library use. Individuals with low-income and limited access to transportation and technology are most impacted.

  • Late fines generate little revenue. In recent years, fines made up less than 1% of the total operating budget.

  • Totals collected continue to decrease over time. This trend correlates with patrons checking out more digital and fewer physical items. Digital titles return automatically and do not accrue late fines.

  • Collecting fines from patrons also has costs. Associated expenses include staff time, payment processing fees, printing notices, and more.

  • A majority of peer libraries have eliminated late fines.

The Board voted for the resolution to drop fines Thursday.

Dori: Why do Seattle Public Library fines get erased, but not car tabs?

“The people most impacted are those who already face the greatest challenges. These include individuals with low incomes and limited access to transportation and technology,” Lisa Rosenblum, Executive Director of KCLS said. “Late fines only worsen inequity and discourage library use. We hope that removing that barrier will have a profound and positive effect on the people who need us most.”

The policy does not impact replacement fees. If library materials are more than 30 days overdue, the library considers them lost. It will continue to charge replacement fees for lost, damaged, and missing items.

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No more late fines on books at King County Libraries