Seattle Public Library to eliminate overdue fines in January

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Updated 7:12 am PST, Saturday, December 14, 2019

SEATTLE (AP) — Starting Jan. 2, the Seattle Public Library will eliminate daily fines for overdue materials — and will forgive existing balances.

The Seattle Times reports the change in policy follows the approval of a $219 million Seattle library levy, which voters passed overwhelmingly in August. The levy will pay for the loss of revenue caused by eliminating fines, for extended hours for many Seattle Public Library (SPL) branches, seismic renovations and additional programs.

In eliminating overdue fines, SPL is following in the footsteps of a number of other library systems nationwide. The purpose, said SPL chief librarian Marcellus Turner, is to provide easy and equitable access to library resources for all patrons.

It’s not that all charges are going away — the library still wants its books back. Patrons who do not return materials 14 days after their due date will have their library accounts suspended until the items are returned. And SPL will charge replacement fees for lost or damaged materials.

But this change brings print materials to the same level as electronic resources (overdue e-books and other e-material already do not accrue fines), and Turner hopes it will encourage former patrons to return.