In order to prevent barriers between the community and materials available at their local libraries, all Orange County libraries have decided to eliminate late fees. Photo by Sydnie Sabbarese.

News

OCPL system removes all late fees

The late fees were removed last November.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/atdemaria/" target="_self">Alexys DeMaria</a>

Alexys DeMaria

January 15, 2022

Orange County Public Libraries eliminated late fines permanently starting Nov. 23, 2021, a week after an Orange County Board of Supervisors vote. The board aims to provide free and equal library services to all residents of Orange County.

“Public libraries play an essential role in providing safe, accessible, and free educational resources for every member in our community,” chairman Andrew Do said. “Eliminating late fines will incentivize residents to take advantage of county library resources once again and not be hesitant to take a book home during their next visit.”

The libraries suspended late fees during the pandemic and have consistently offered county-wide fine-free events to encourage patrons to come to the library.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, OC Public Libraries implemented the longest removal of late fines to lessen financial disparities experienced by the Orange County community with no negative impact on the library budget,” supervisor Katrina Foley said.

With their vision of “Open doors, free access and community,” the board recognizes that late fees provide economic barriers to use materials offered by the library.

“OC Public Libraries make their users a top priority by providing free and equal access to materials and services,” vice chairman Doug Chaffee said.

Outstanding late fees will be waived, giving a fresh start to patrons with the new system. Individuals will receive a courtesy reminder two days before an item is due. If not returned, they will receive an overdue notice a day after the due date and again four days, eight days, and 21 days after the due date. If the material is not returned 30 days after the due date, they will receive a bill for lost material.

Patrons cannot check out new material with a lost item. However, if the material is returned, all fees and restrictions are waived.

“Eliminating late fines helps eliminate the costly burden of fine collection and relocates staff time towards their primary purpose — guiding all patrons to the numerous resources OC Public Libraries has to offer,” supervisor Don Wagner said.

The Government of Orange County also noted libraries that adopted fine-free policies have seen several positive effects, including increased patron access to materials and services, improved patron relationships with their library, growth in library card registrations, and 200% increase in returned library materials.

Changes apply to county libraries, including Fountain Valley and Westminster. Huntington Central Library is excluded as it is funded by the city of Huntington Beach.

For more information on late fines visit ocpl.org/nolatefines.

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