Elimination Of Overdue Fines

Spokane County Library District (SCLD) will eliminate overdue fines, removing barriers to access and providing equitable service for all community members.

SCLD has announced that it no longer charges overdue fines for borrowed items that are not returned by the due date. The change became effective on the 1st day of January this year. This policy change is aimed at removing barriers that prevent people from using the library’s resources, which goes against the library’s mission of providing resources that empower people to learn, explore, and succeed.

Overdue fines disproportionately affect low-income community members and community members of color, reducing their access to the library and the resources it provides. Eliminating these fines is a step towards providing equitable service and fostering early literacy while ensuring free access to information and services.

Despite the elimination of overdue fines, customers will still be accountable for the items they borrow. If an item is four weeks overdue, the library will consider it lost and bill the customer for the total price of the item. 

It is important to note that previous fines assessed before January 1, 2023, will still apply and can be paid at any of SCLD’s libraries or online. Currently, they still have their read-off fines program in place for kids’ accounts. However, during the writing of this article, they had yet to announce when they would stop accepting this payment method. 

According to SCLD, return rates and wait times will likely not be affected by the elimination of overdue fines, as other public libraries that have done so have not experienced a deterioration in return rates or an increase in hold times.

As a reminder, library card privileges include the following:

  • Checkout periods of two weeks for newly released books and DVDs and four weeks for most other materials
  • A borrowing limit of fifty items at any given time
  • Most items can be renewed up to five times unless someone else has requested them
  • A hold request limit of twenty-five items at a time
  • Lost item bills will be sent when items are four weeks overdue

Notices and reminders will be sent via email for hold pickups three days before checked-out items are due and thirty days before your library card’s annual expiration.

To update your email address for your library account, please submit the Ask About Your Account form or call the library at (509) 893-8400.

Sources:

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