Library Fines: Do They Help or Should They Go?

There are libraries around the country and in some parts of the world that are getting rid of library fines.  This has led to libraries looking into this practice as there are arguments that it increases the number of visitors to the library.  However, there are some people who think this is possibly a bad decision for libraries as late fees can be helpful to a library or town.

Yet, there are a lot of articles around, and one website devoted to ending library fines, that all point out the people that might need the library, like low-income families, tend to shy away from the library when fines are present.  Also, they say library use increases when fines are eliminated and there are arguments that suggest fines do nothing to prompt the timely return of materials.  There are even arguments that go so far as to say that borrowers who can afford fines will keep materials longer just because they can afford them.

So, the question on the other side is, why would not having fines help?  A lot of the libraries are putting a limit of a few months on returning library materials and at that point you would be responsible for the entire cost of the materials you had checked out.  In cases like this, the question of whether it’s more beneficial for this “no fines” practice to be put in place if a patron can still end up paying for materials at a higher cost. Most libraries will allow you to borrow a book for about two weeks, depending on where you live, and not bringing the book back will usually only cost a few cents a day for late returns.  For some, fines aren’t an issue because returning a book or other materials is doable and fines aren’t too weighty.

Yet, there are cases where people simply can’t afford the fines so for them to know they have a substantial amount of time can be something that brings more people in.  However, this is still an issue where some are divided since there is truth in the fact that a loss of fines could be detrimental to library funding. Again though, those who use the library often and might not be able handle fines would for sure benefit from no fines in their library.