Riverside Public Library Eliminates Fees

As of January 17th, 2023, the City of Riverside’s public library system will no longer be charging fines for overdue materials to library card holders. The elimination of overdue fees for library materials including books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs is a new trend in cities throughout the nation. Not only are new fines not being charged, but old fines have been wiped from the system. This is great news for all library patrons in our city.

Why is this happening? There are numerous reasons for the removal of library fees. The most significant is that studies have shown that fines create unequal barriers to library access within the communities served.  When customers receive a late fee, they are less likely to come back to the library. Rather, they just avoid going and as a result, the library is less likely to retrieve the overdue item. We all know that the fees can creep up on us. That $0.25 per day can add up fast when a library book is left under a bed or couch and does not get returned.

Going to the library is meant to be a positive experience, bringing learning and joy into families’ lives. Libraries across the country are finding that the fines drive away people who stand to benefit the most from the free library resources. Studies have shown that late fees on cardholders disproportionately deter low-income residents and children from using the library. According to a report presented to the Mayor and City Council from Riverside’s Board of Library Trustees, A win, win for everyone involved.

“Eliminating fees reduces patron guilt in returning materials, helps foster a better library environment, produces friendlier interactions between library staff and customers, and allows staff to focus on transformational customer experiences rather than transactional ones.”

The elimination of fines should not have a great financial impact on the library system as they do not rely on fines as a major source of revenue. The fiscal impact of the fines is estimated to be around $5,000 over the next couple of years. The loss of revenue will be offset in part by the reduced administrative time and effort required to track late materials.

The City of Riverside has 8 libraries situated throughout the city. Check out your local library today in person or online at the Riverside Public Library website.  

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