In an effort to entice more prospective readers, Santa Barbara’s library system announced it is doing away with overdue-book fines. While such fines generate about $75,000 a year, the administrative costs are significantly higher, according to library spokesperson Molly Wetta. Many prospective library users, she said, are put off by the prospect of incurring such costs, especially low-income families with kids. Either that, or they don’t take out as many books.
Other cities have tried this out and noted an increase in library usage. Typically, 95 percent of all books are returned on time.
Currently, the library system charges fines of 25 cents a day per book, or a maximum of $8. While fines are abolished, fees are not. Fees will still be charged on books turned in more than 30 days late. Such fees, however, can be waived if books are returned in good condition within 60 days.
Right now, the city library system is about to embark on a historic agreement with the Santa Barbara school district in which students are automatically signed up for cards unless they choose to opt out.