Marin free library system drops late fees, hopes to boost visitation

06/19/2019

In an effort to be more equitable and inclusive, the Marin County Free Library is getting rid of fines for overdue books. On July 1, all fines will be forgiven at the library’s 10-branch system, and the 25-cent daily late charge will be eliminated. “It costs the library more in staff time to collect and account for the fees than the fees generate,” Sara Jones, the director of county library services, said in a press release. Revenue from fines amounts to less than half a percent of the library’s budget. “Fines don’t really incentivize people to return our content on time, anyway,” added Ms. Jones, who hopes eliminating fines will boost library visitation. In 2015, Marin’s free library removed late fees for children’s and teens’ books to positive feedback. At other fine-free libraries, people visit and use the library more often, and they typically return materials on time, research shows. The library will still remind borrowers of due dates, and items that are lost or not returned will have replacement costs.