Read on, Park City: library drops overdue fines
Park City Library patrons will likely be fine with a recent decision by the Park City Council.
The elected officials at a recent meeting opted to end overdue fines. The fines have been in place for decades. The City Council agreed with library staffers and the Park City Library Board in dropping the overdue fines. The library staffers argue it costs more to collect the fines than the practice brought in through revenues from the patrons with overdue books.
The fines had been set at 10 cents per day with a maximum of $5 per item.
Adriane Herrick Juarez, the library director, said in an interview some library patrons’ worries about overdue fines influenced them not to visit. The fines are a “disincentive” for library use, she said.
“It just keeps people away from the library,” Herrick Juarez said.
She said many libraries across the U.S. have adopted similar fine-free policies, leading to a greater percentage of overdue books being returned. Overdue fines create a “bit of a fear factor,” she said.
The Library Board is expected to address the issue again at a meeting on Dec. 19. While the City Council at the recent meeting removed the fines from the municipal fee schedule, the Library Board needs to make changes to policies at the Dec. 19 meeting.
The fine-free policy is expected to begin the next day. Herrick Juarez said a rollout with broader publicity is planned in January. The decision does not apply to fees related to lost or damaged books.
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the recent meeting indicated the library generated $6,400 in revenues from fines between mid-2017 and mid-2018. But it cost approximately $17,851 in staff time over that period to collect the fines. The report showed the collection of the fines was in the red by $11,452.
Herrick Juarez said the decision “makes sense fiscally.” She also said library staffers who otherwise would be assigned to collecting fines will spend more time assisting patrons and training.