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Salt Lake City Library System Will End Overdue Fines

Photo of Salt Lake City Public Library, Downtown branch.
File Photo
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Beginning July 1, Salt Lake City’s public libraries will stop collecting fines for overdue materials. The City Library’s Board unanimously approved the policy this week.

Library communication manager Andrew Shaw says there’s mounting evidence that late fines don’t actually motivate people to bring their books back on time.

“Instead, fines really create an inequitable barrier to service for people who have the least amount of resources,” Shaw says.

Fines currently stand at 20 cents per day for overdue books and 50 cents for movies. Shaw says they can pile up and end up hurting the people who stand to benefit the most from access to library resources. 

“That’s an extra bill that a lot of people in our community can’t take on,” he says. “We see people choose not to use the library instead of potentially taking on those fines.”

Shaw says under the new policy, if items are not returned, a hold is placed on the library card and the borrower will eventually be billed for the value of the item.

The city’s library system expected about $75,000 in revenue from late fines this year, about a third of one percent of its entire proposed budget.

The library is seeking a property tax increase to add nearly $4 million to the its annual budget. That money would help with operating costs for two new branches and create a long-term maintenance fund.

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