MENDOCINO Co., 1/4/22 — Mendocino County libraries will no longer be charging overdue fees, following a national shift in library polices to ensure that all patroons can access library services equitably. The change was approved by the county supervisors in late 2021. The change does not entirely eliminate all costs to patrons, and replacement cost charges will still be incurred for items that are returned damaged or not returned at all.
Here’s the announcement from Mendocino County:
The Mendocino County Public Library will no longer charge late fines on books and other circulating materials, eliminating a barrier to access and ensuring that all Mendocino County residents have free, equitable, and open access to knowledge and opportunity.
The Mendocino County Library joins other large and small public library systems across the country to turn the page on late fines. This change is a part of a national institutional movement, guided by the recommendations of the American Library Association, to increase free public access to library services. Existing fines for overdue items will be forgiven to ensure that everyone can start the New Year fine free! Fees for lost or damaged items will remain on the user’s account.
“I’m so happy that we were able to get approval from the Board of Supervisors to change this policy. We expect community usage as well as good will to increase without the stigma of debt hanging over those who need our services the most,” stated Deb Fader Samson, Cultural Services Agency Director.
Going fine free does not mean that patrons will not have to bring library materials back to the library. Items will still have due dates and materials will still need to be returned. Please remember that library materials can be renewed up to two times, if there are no other people waiting to check out the item. However, if an item is not returned, or is returned damaged, patrons will still be charged replacement costs.
The Mendocino County Library felt it was imperative to create an environment that feels welcoming rather than punitive for all our borrowers. Studies in libraries that have eliminated fines show that there has been no impact on return rates and in fact, the elimination of fines increases the use of library materials.
For more information, please visit www.mendolibrary.org or contact the Mendocino County Cultural Services Agency at 234-2873.