In a move aimed at promoting accessibility and enhancing community engagement, the Folsom Public Library has officially adopted a fine-free policy for overdue library materials. The unanimous decision was reached during the Folsom City Council’s meeting on July 11th, marking a significant shift in the library’s approach to managing late returns.
Under the new policy, library patrons will no longer face charges for overdue items. Additionally, the library is progressively removing existing overdue fines, ensuring a fresh start for users. However, it is important to note that charges for lost or damaged materials will still apply. The policy of the library’s partner institutions, which include the Sacramento Public Library, Colusa County Free Library, Sutter County Library, and Woodland Public Library, will remain unchanged.
The motivation behind this decision stems from the recognition that overdue fines have presented a substantial barrier to library usage for many residents. The prospect of accumulating fines has deterred individuals from fully utilizing the library’s resources, leading to a decrease in engagement. Furthermore, the imposition of fines often resulted in frustrating experiences for patrons. Informed by the experiences of numerous libraries across the United States, the Folsom Public Library found that eliminating fines did not negatively impact the return rates. On the contrary, it actually resulted in an increase in the number of overdue items being returned. Inspired by these success stories, the library has chosen to align its policies with the recognized best practices observed nationwide.
While overdue fines are no longer in effect, borrowers are still expected to adhere to due dates for borrowed items. The library urges patrons to return materials promptly, allowing others to enjoy their use. Should items not be returned within 21 days, they will be automatically marked as lost, and charges will be applied accordingly. Additionally, patrons who hold onto items for more than 40 days may find their accounts referred to collections, accompanied by a $10 non-refundable fee. Accounts with a balance of $5 or more will be blocked, preventing patrons from borrowing additional materials until the overdue items are returned or the appropriate fees are paid.
Queries related to charges on library accounts can be directed to the library’s staff, who are currently working to eliminate existing fines. However, it is important to note that patrons are still responsible for fees associated with lost or damaged materials, collections referrals, and fines resulting from overdue materials borrowed from partner libraries. Each partner institution maintains its own policies regarding their respective materials.
In terms of the library’s budget, the elimination of overdue fines is not expected to have a significant impact. Revenue generated from fines accounted for a mere 1% of the library’s budget, while the costs associated with collecting those fines often exceeded their worth. To support the library’s ongoing initiatives, donations are warmly welcomed. Contributions can be made directly or through the Friends of Folsom Library.
For more detailed information regarding the library’s decision to eliminate fines, the Folsom City Council’s revised master fee schedule and related documents offer valuable insights. The library remains committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment where community members can freely access and enjoy its extensive resources.