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No More Late Fees At LA Public Libraries, Mayor Says

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – If you're rushing to return a book to a Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) before the due date, you can somewhat relax.

No More Late Fees At LA Public Libraries, Mayor Says
Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti holds a news conference at the L.A. Central Library. Dec. 13, 2019. (CBS2)

Beginning in the spring of 2020, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday, patrons of the LAPL system who don't return a book by the due date will not be charged any fines. Furthermore, people who have outstanding fines prior to the policy taking effect will have those wiped out as well.

The new policy won't hurt the library system financially, Garcetti said at a news conference Friday.

"It seems like a small thing, but it's huge, and the math here is pretty simple," Garcetti said. "Revenue from fines, which has been on the decline for years, accounts for less than one percent of the library's total budget."

Garcetti said that instead of encouraging people to return books, fines have sometimes forced people to hold onto them because they couldn't pay. Or, they avoided the library altogether. He explained that in 2016, when LAPL went fine-free for two weeks, 64,000 overdue books ended up back on the shelves and more than 7,900 new library cards were issued.

"And we know that eliminating fines works," City Librarian John Szabo said Friday. "Libraries across the country that have become fine-free experience [upticks] in materials borrowed, library card registration, staff morale and customer satisfaction."

Patrons will still be charged for replacing books that are more than 45 days overdue, officials said. They will also still be charged for replacing damaged books. Patrons who take out items for more than 108 days will have their cards blocked until the books or DVDs are returned, or, until they pay.

The library will also be increasing the number of times that an item can be renewed from two to three.

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