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Alameda County Library

Library News

Fine-Free for All

by Alicia Reyes on 2019-06-10T16:04:00-07:00 | Comments

Are fines keeping you away from the Library? We get it—life happens and sometimes it’s difficult to return items on time. Before you know it, late fees can add up quickly and be a burden. That’s why we’re happy to announce that beginning on July 1, 2019, AC Library is eliminating fines on all library materials. 

Starting July 1, 2019, it’s fine-free for all. Things go better with love, especially the love for your library without the late fines. Not only are we eliminating daily overdue fines, but also any existing fines accrued before July 1, 2019.   

How Fine-Free Works
Library members will still be expected to return library materials on time and will be billed for lost or damaged items. Reminders to return library materials will continue to be sent by email or phone.  

When will Fines be Eliminated? 
Beginning on July 1, 2019, Alameda County Library will eliminate all fines on library materials. 

Why is Alameda County Library Eliminating Fines? 
Studies have shown that library fines create significant barriers to library access, especially for families on fixed incomes and among children and teens. Nearly 80,000 Alameda County Library cardholders have outstanding fines that prevent them from checking out materials; of these library cardholders, more than 20,000 are children and teens. The experience of other libraries that have eliminated fines has shown that library fines are not an effective tool in encouraging library members to return borrowed items on time. Overdue library fines and fees account for less than two percent of the library’s revenue. 

As a result of these findings, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal on May 7, 2019 to eliminate fines on library materials.   

Eliminating library fines is becoming a nationwide trend for libraries. We are pleased to join our neighboring libraries in the Bay Area who have gone fine-free, including San Mateo County Library, Contra Costa County Library, Berkeley Public Library, and Oakland Public Library.    

Will my Overdue Fines be Waived? 
Library members who have accrued overdue fines before July 1, 2019, will have those fines waived automatically. Charges for lost or damaged items will not be waived.

Do I Get a Refund for Late Fines I Recently Paid?
No. Fines paid before the new fine-free policy are not refundable. We thank you for your support of the Library.

Will the Library Send Reminders about Returning Materials?
Yes. Reminders to return library materials will continue to be sent by email or phone.  

Will the Elimination of Fines Impact the Library’s Budget?
No, overdue library fines and fees account for less than two percent of the library’s revenue. 

I Consider my Fines as a Donation to the Library. How can I Support the Library Financially?
Alameda County Library accepts financial donations through the Alameda County Library Foundation. You are welcome to make a donation to support the library.  

What if a Library Member Never Returns an Item?
To ensure that library materials are returned, Alameda County Library will charge library members for lost items. Unreturned items will be billed 21 days past their due date. Members’ accounts will be blocked if they have an unpaid bill for any item more than 21 days past its due date or if they owe more than $10. 

Will this Make the Waiting Times for Requested Items Even Longer?
Other libraries that have eliminated daily overdue fines have not seen any increases in overdue items, so we don’t expect any significant increases in hold times. 

What if I Want an Item that a Library Member has Overdue? 
We recommend that you place holds on checked out items that you want. Placing a hold will block the item from being renewed and deliver it to the library of your choice. You’ll receive a notification by email or phone when the item arrives at your preferred library, and you will have 7 days to pick it up.


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