In an effort to increase library usage and accessibility for all residents, the Richmond Public Library (RPL) in Virginia has ended the practice of issuing fines to patrons who fail to return library materials on time.
Fines on overdue materials disproportionately affect low-income, African American and Hispanic communities. Despite this large burden on certain patrons, overdue fines comprise a relatively small portion of RPL’s total budget – less than one percent.
By eliminating fines, the city hopes residents of all backgrounds will feel more comfortable and welcome using the breadth of academic, artistic, and financial resources the library offers.
The elimination of overdue fines was recently endorsed by the largest professional association of librarians in the United States, the American Library Association (ALA). The body has adopted multiple resolutions encouraging libraries to eliminate fines. Many of these communities have witnessed an increase in library patronage by ten percent or more.
The library system will still charge fees for items that are damaged or are considered lost.