Thursday, February 17, 2022

Fine-free Libraries: City Council Eliminates Overdue Fines

Today the Austin City Council eliminated fees for overdue library materials for adult library patrons.
 
Sponsored by Council Member Kathie Tovo, the measure is intended to expand access to library resources for Austinites and to eliminate barriers that might exist for users who have late fines that they cannot pay.
 
In 2019, the American Library Association identified library fines as a form of social
inequity and urged libraries throughout the nation to remove fees for overdue library materials.
 
The City of Austin’s Library Commission studied the issue and unanimously came to the same conclusion.
 
“Eliminating fees will expand access and, hopefully, increase library usage among Austinites,” said sponsor Council Member Kathie Tovo.

“Going fine-free will help ensure equitable access to the rich materials and resources in Austin’s libraries,” Tovo said. “As an avid, lifetime library user, I applaud the Library Commission and our Austin Public Library leadership. If fines and late fees have been driving some users away, I hope removing these allows us to welcome those users back to their public libraries.”

Patricia Dabbert, Chair of the Austin Library Commission, said, “The Library Commission is very excited for what this change means for ensuring more equitable access to our libraries. I am grateful for the work my fellow commissioners have done in taking the lead on this issue.”
 
According to the Austin Public Library, about 400 libraries in the United
States have removed fines for overdue materials. Previously the Austin Public Library eliminated fines for overdue children’s materials.
 
Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks said, “The Austin Public Library is committed to providing free and equitable access to all of our resources for the citizens of Austin. We want to make sure our resources are available to those impacted the most by fines.”

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