County of Marin - News Releases - Library Fines

For Immediate Release
December 06, 2017

Library Thanks Marin Through Amnesty for Fines

Late fees for adults are forgiven through January

San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Free Library (MCFL) is providing amnesty for library fines as a thank you for the community for its support. Fines for youth materials were eliminated a few years ago to reduce barriers to library use. From now until January 31, adults will enjoy the same relief from library fines from returning materials late.

A librarian (left) hands a book to a patronLibrary staff is eager to retrieve long-lost materials.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the plan during its December 5 meeting. That means from December 6 through the end of January there is a “clean slate” policy for adults who have amassed fines for overdue materials. MCFL Director Sara Jones said her staff hopes to retrieve some long-lost materials that are no longer being published.

“In some cases, people have avoided visiting the library for years because of money owed, and that’s heartbreaking for us to hear,” Jones said. “This kind of policy is used by lots of public libraries across the country, and there is trusted documentation to prove that it increases the sustained use of the library. We’d like to say thank you to the community and welcome back patrons who might have been away for a long time.”

The existing fine schedule is 25 cents per item per day and lending services suspended after the amount reaches $10. The temporary amnesty policy is intended to reduce barriers in the use of materials and give people a new chance to visit the library branches and use online services.

The motivation to change the policy comes from the MCFL’s needs assessment and strategic plan developed in 2014. Among the goals that emerged from that effort were to support family literacy and youth development by presenting the library branches as the preferred place for children, families and caregivers to connect, learn and grow together.

Jones said an expected reduction in MCFL revenue from fines and fees would be absorbable in the current budget. “It’s worth it to us because of the positive outcomes of serving the disadvantaged and underserved members of our community,” she said. “It advances our goal of being a champion for equity measures.”

The new policies would not affect policy in city libraries through Marin, only in the 10 branches of the MCFL.

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Sara Jones
Marin County Free Library

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6051
Email: Sara Jones
Library website