On July 1, 2019, the Livermore Public Library moved from an overdue fines model to a materials recovery model. Patrons will no longer owe an overdue fine if they need to return an item a few days late.
In order to encourage the return of materials so others may enjoy them, patrons with items overdue by one week or more will not be able to check out additional items until the late items have been returned. Patrons will still be billed for the cost of an item once it is four weeks overdue. This change was recommended by the Library Board of Trustees and Library staff, and was approved by the Livermore City Council on June 10, 2019.
The purpose of moving from an overdue fines model to a materials recovery model is to eliminate unnecessary barriers to usage for all residents, while still encouraging the timely return of library materials. “Fines can present a significant hurdle to those who are economically disadvantaged, and have the most need for library resources,” said Library Services Director Tamera LeBeau. “It supports the Library’s mission of free and equal access to move to this type of model.”
The American Library Association established this change as a best practice for libraries when they adopted a “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity” in January 2019. A number of libraries in the Bay Area and across the nation have successfully moved to this type of model.
Pleasanton Public Library will be joining other Northern California libraries, and libraries nationally, to eliminate daily overdue fines in efforts to remove common barriers for library members and provide greater access to information for all. After a majority vote for the City Council at last week’s council meeting, with support from the Library Commission, an update to the Library Fee Schedule went into effect last week. Daily overdue fines will be eliminated.
“At a time when the Pleasanton Public Library is working to grow its community connection and reach more people in the community, turning each of those negative transactions into positive interactions could have an impact on the perception and role of the library in our community,” said Heidi Murphy, library and recreation director.
In an effort to align current Pleasanton Public Library practices with strategic goals and objectives, staff conducted extensive research on moving to a materials recovery model and away from an overdue fines model that penalizes members for not returning items on time and can discourage further use of the library by creating negative customer interactions.
This policy change is a trend from libraries throughout California including Contra Costa County, Alameda County, San Mateo County, Berkeley and Livermore Public Libraries, and countless other libraries throughout the country. Library patrons can expect to see the elimination of daily overdue fines, and existing daily fines waived from accounts. Lost and damaged materials would continue to be charged a replacement fee. In the new model, eligible items will be automatically renewed. This materials recovery model will further enhance the mission of the Pleasanton Library by increasing access, circulation and recovery of the materials and the many resources it has to offer, while eliminating barriers to usage.