Library fines forgiven

Maricopa County gets rid of overdue library fines

Editor’s note: This press release from Maricopa County has been updated. The original version read that Maricopa’s library fine forgiveness was a first in the state, however that is incorrect and Coconino County was the first county in Arizona to do so.

PHOENIX – Maricopa County is welcoming thousands of customers back to its public libraries. The Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate overdue fines – and to waive existing overdue fines – at the County’s 18 public libraries.

“Libraries are an important resource for children and adults to learn about and connect with their community and world,” said Chairman Bill Gates.  “This is why we have decided to discontinue collecting daily overdue fines and to waive any existing fines that can build up and lead to blocked accounts for people who can least afford them, giving everyone a fresh start.”

This measure, which went into effect on May 22, only applies to Maricopa County Library District libraries. While part of a growing national movement, Maricopa County is the second public library system in Arizona to take this step for all customers.

 “We’re proud to be the first system in the state to remove this barrier between our residents and a vital community resource,” Chairman Gates said, who also represents District 3.

Maricopa County determined that overdue fines account for less than one percent of its budget, meaning there is no significant financial impact by eliminating the fees.

“No one should be kept from libraries because of overdue fines,” said Cindy Kolaczynski, Director of the Maricopa County Library District. “Collecting fines isn’t a quick process. Our staff would much rather help customers explore and discover.”

Although the Maricopa County Library District receives about $300,000 from overdue fine payments each year, the number has been dropping, according to Kolaczynski.  She also points out that the number, “doesn’t account for the resources it takes to collect payments.”

“Coupled with the rise in digital items, which auto-return on the due date, it just makes sense to eliminate overdue fines,” she said.

County officials are encouraging the public to renew their county library cards either online or in-person and register for the annual summer reading program happening through June and July.

“Everyone can earn great prizes, including a free book,” Kolaczynski added. “You don’t need a library card for the program, but it definitely improves the experience.”

Highlights of Maricopa Library’s new waived fines policy

Customers will still pay for:

  • Customers will pay for Lost items (late for 31+ days)
  • Damaged items
  • Processing ad collections fees
  • Accounts currently blocked for these reasons must be paid down to regain access

New policies for the 18 county libraries:

  • Overdue fines (the daily charge for items late by 30 days or less) have been eliminated
  • Current overdue fines are waived
  • More at mcldAZ.org/nofines

For more information or to register visit: read20az.com.