On July 1, 2019, Alameda County Library will eliminate all fines on library materials. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted on May 7, 2019 to approve the library’s proposal to eliminate daily fines and all past overdue fines on library materials. By eliminating fines, the library is removing barriers and strengthening its commitment to equitable access for all.
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. “Eliminating overdue fines will strengthen our communities by restoring library access to tens of thousands of people, including those who need our services the most,” said Cindy Chadwick, County Librarian.
Eliminating overdue fines is becoming a nationwide trend for libraries. Alameda County Library is pleased to join its 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.
Library members will still be expected to return library materials on time and will be billed for lost or damaged items. Visit aclibrary.org to learn more about its new fine-free borrowing policy.