August 10, 2021

LA County Supervisors Eliminate Late Fines from County Libraries

Los Angeles, CA – Today the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn to immediately eliminate late fines from LA County Libraries.

“Library late fines do much more harm than good,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “They makeup less than 1% of the Library’s revenue and they can dissuade people from using the Library’s services. Our LA County Libraries are full of great resources and we want people to take advantage of them. It is time to make LA County Library a fine-free library system.”

Hahn’s motion instructs LA County Librarian Skye Patrick to waive all fines and fees for overdue books and other library materials, effective immediately. It also instructs the County Librarian to work with the County’s Auditor-Controller, County Counsel, and Treasurer-Tax Collector to waive all existing fees for library patrons as well as write off the Library’s Accounts Receivable.

“We are pleased the Board of Supervisors approved the elimination of library fines. This is a critical step in removing barriers and opening access to all Library customers,” said County Librarian Skye Patrick. “This important initiative will help us do our everyday work of fostering learning experiences, sparking curiosity, making connections, and building skills for all LA County residents.”

Collecting fines for overdue library materials was originally implemented as a source of revenue for the LA County Library system – but, presently, these fines make up less than 1% of library revenue. Additionally, the staffing cost associated with the collection of late fees has exceeded the amount of fees collected in the past two fiscal years.

Transitions to fine-free library systems are not unique. In recent years, large urban systems across the country – including the LA City Public Library, San Diego Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Denver Public Library and Columbus Metropolitan Library systems – have adopted a fine-free model, with research showing that such policies have resulted in a 200 percent increase in returned library books and other materials.

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