If you've been looking over your shoulder waiting for another reminder about the overdue book (or books) sitting on your kitchen table, you can begin breathing again. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday that beginning in 2020, the L.A. Public Library will not charge patrons any fines for overdue books.
"Starting this spring, Los Angeles Public Library is doing away with overdue fines," Garcetti said.
"We know that fines can disproportionately affect lower-income communities and families," City Librarian John Szabo told KFI News.
The LAPL will eliminate fines for overdue books beginning in 2020. Furthermore, any patrons who have any outstanding fees will also see those wiped from the system, Garcetti said.
“Our library is a civic and cultural treasure, and everyone in the city should be able to share in the wealth of information, enrichment and entertainment in our collection,” Garcetti said. “We are ending these fines because patrons show care and integrity in the handling of these precious materials, and nothing should stand in the way of Angelenos who want to share in all the library has to offer.”
It's not a total free ride - patrons will still be charged to replace any books that are more than 45 days overdue. People will also be charged if they damage the books. The library will also allow patrons to renew items that are due from two to three times.
This isn't the first time the library has flirted with getting rid of the fines. An experiment run by the library earlier this year found people more likely to return overdue items.
"Over 13,000 individuals whose library cards were blocked, were unblocked during just those two weeks," Subo said.
More than 64,000 books were returned during the experiment.
“At the Los Angeles Public Library, we are proud to serve the largest, most diverse population of any library in the nation,” Szabo said. “By removing barriers and going fine-free, we will be better able to serve everyone in Los Angeles.”
The move comes as libraries across the country eliminate fines for overdue books as part of an effort to reduce inequality.
Photo: Kris Ankarlo.