Santa Barbara Public Library | Credit: Courtesy

The Santa Barbara City Council has approved a proposal to forgive outstanding fines and fees, allowing Santa Barbara Public Library accounts to have a “clean slate,” starting April 15, to aid in the transition to a new online catalog.

 In July 2019, the Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) discontinued charging late fees on overdue items, though patrons with existing fees and fines continued to show the fees on their account. Prior to going fine-free, patrons could accumulate up to $24.99 before their access to check out additional materials was blocked. The limit was reduced to $9.99 when overdue fines were eliminated. Library patrons who have had their account blocked from checking out materials will have a clean slate after April 15, 2022, and will be able to check out library materials again.

 “Many of these outstanding fines and fees are more than four years old, and many are simply overdue fines for a couple of items that together exceed the $10 limit,” said Jessica Cadiente, SBPL director. “Giving community members a fresh start as we migrate accounts to a new catalog system allows them the opportunity to return to the library, and is in line with the Library’s mission of reducing barriers to access.”

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The library will continue to charge replacement cost fees if items are not returned within 30 days of their due date. However, if an item is returned before it is 60 days overdue, the library waives the replacement cost. If an item is not returned within 60 days of its due date, the replacement charge is permanent and cannot be waived.

In October 2021, City Council approved SBPL to move forward with its shift to a new online catalog system and withdraw its library patron records and its library holdings from Black Gold’s proprietary Polaris catalog.

To facilitate a more efficient data transfer without the burden of migrating fines and fees to the new integrated library system and to encourage patron use of the new catalog without fines and fees, the Library Department proposed to forgive all outstanding fines and fees in advance of April 15, 2022, the go-live date of the new catalog.

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