After the Denver Public Library eliminated fines for late items, over 104,000 patrons returned to the system, Denverite reports.
In December 2018, the library announced that there is a nationwide trend toward getting rid of late fines and expanding access. Consequently, fines would be scrapped beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.
“Too often, fines penalize the most vulnerable families and individuals who can least afford them,” said city Librarian Michelle Jeske. “We want to reverse this trend and get community members back into our buildings to use materials and enhance their quality of life and education.”
According to Denverite, the grace period to return an item late does not extend indefinitely. After 28 days of being overdue, the customer is charged for the “lost” item. If there is no return or replacement of the item after 56 days, the debt goes to a collections agency.
To that end, the library makes a distinction between a “fine” and a “fee.” In 2018, fines contributed $110,339 to the city’s general fund, but that was 0.2% of all fees collected.
Those patrons who still incur fees or collections notices may see an impact to their credit score.
Last year, NPR reported that while more library systems are embracing fineless borrowing systems, many found that it would cost more to recover fines owed than to wipe away the debt.