PALMDALE – Palmdale City Library patrons will soon be able to check out materials without the fear of a late fine hanging over their heads for overdue materials.
City officials hope the policy change will encourage more people to use the library.
Beginning July 1 the library will no longer charge an overdue fine for materials returned after their due date. The library currently charges 20 cents per day for overdue materials, up to a total of $12. It charges the cost of the item for any lost materials. The library will continue to charge patrons for materials that are not returned, or are damaged.
The Palmdale Board of Library Trustees voted unanimously at its March 10 meeting to recommend the City Council eliminate charging fines for overdue materials.
Library trustee Challen David urged the council during public comments at the May 6 meeting to adopt the proposed resolution to eliminate fines
“The board has held this topic in interest, research, discussion, and consultation for about a year,” David said. “When reviewing a policy change so radical, we ensured the entire process was informed of our community’s needs, our city’s budget and goals, and the library’s vision and mission.”
David added the board hopes the proposed resolution to remove barriers to nearly 20% of library patrons will bring people back in to the library.
“Almost two years ago, the library conducted a survey and found many people were not even aware of the many programs and services the library hosts and offers, with the adoption of this new policy, thousands of Palmdale and neighboring residents would again gain access to the library’s many features,” David said.
The City collects about $25,000 annually in fines for overdue materials.
Library Director Robert Shupe said the studies have shown the charging of fines for overdue materials does not result in materials being returned on time.
“It is a fact that having a policy of charging overdue fines discourages some people from applying for a card in the first place, and that the threat of a fine will dissuade low-income families from using the library because of the fear of possibly being charged overdue fines,” Shupe said.
Shupe added libraries across the country have adopted similar policies eliminating fines for overdue materials.
“If the City Council approves this change in policy and practice it would not affect the current policy and practice of charging, billing, and pursuing patrons who do not return items, damage items, seem to be stealing items,” Shupe said. “None of that would change. We pursue them vigorously now and would continue to do that.”
In response to a question from Councilman Richard Loa, Shupe said any item that has been late for 45 days is considered lost in the library’s computer system. The patron will receive several bill notices up to that point, after which the item is billed to their account.
Councilman Austin Bishop praised the Library Board for its progressive thinking.
“I support this. I think it’s going to be good to get more people in our library and open up those doors any way we can,” Bishop said.
The council approved the item 4-0, with Mayor Steve Hofbauer absent.
The library is open for walk-in services from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10 am, to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday.