While they represent a small percentage of a library’s operating budget, overdue fines can be a prohibitive expense for low-income patrons. Faced with the consequence of debt or even losing borrowing privileges altogether, the fine model can act as a deterrent, opposing the library’s mission to provide free and equitable access to everyone in the community.
Following a resolution passed by the American Library Association in early 2019, numerous U.S. libraries have adopted a fine-free model to remove economic barriers to library access, particularly for low-income patrons.
These libraries have now shown that the elimination of fines has led to an increase in library use. In addition, librarians are finding their jobs more enjoyable as they make a positive shift from spending time and expense on fine collection to enhancing their patron services. Some libraries have also found ways to supplement revenue with unique and valuable new programs such as becoming certified to issue passports.
Is a fine-free model something your library has considered? Explore our white paper, Are Library Late Fees a Barrier to Equity? for a closer look at:
- why libraries are joining the fine-free movement
- how eliminating fines affects revenue
- advice from libraries who successfully implemented the fine-free model