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Yolo County Library eliminates late fees in time for National Library Week

Library goers will also still be expected to return materials on time, and will still be billed for lost or damaged items.

YOLO COUNTY, Calif. — Yolo County is doing away with late fees starting Thursday, April 1 and is allowing patrons to participate in 'Read-Off-Your-Fines' for fees accrued before April. 

The announcement comes just in time for National Library Week, which runs from April 4 to 10. 

At the same time, people who have been notified about late fees from before April 1 will have the option to effectively read away those fines during Yolo County Library's Summer Reading Program, which starts June 1. 

“Late fees have a disproportionate impact on individuals, seniors and families who don’t have the financial resources to pay them, and this makes it harder to take full advantage of our services,” Yolo County Librarian and Chief Archivist Mark Fink said. “Consequently, we are excited to join libraries nationwide to remove this financial barrier and look forward to welcoming folks back into our branches.”

Library fees can put financial hardship on some individuals and families, and library's themselves can have trouble collecting on the fines in the first place. According to the American Library Association (ALA), some libraries go through collection agencies to get materials returned or fees collected. A person's credit score can even be impacted in some more extreme cases. The ALA passed a resolution in 2019 declaring library fines a form of social inequity because of the economic barrier fees present when accessing library materials. 

In eliminating library fees, the Yolo County Library joins Los Angeles Public Library and other public library systems in various counties across the country, including Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County in Maryland, Wallingford Public Library in Connecticut, and Hennepin County in Minnesota. Some other county library systems across the country are considering making the change. 

This official announcement arrives after a Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 9, where councilmembers voted unanimously to do away with late fees. Items can still only be checked out for three weeks at a time. Library goers will also still be expected to return materials on time, and will still be billed for lost or damaged items, but people that return items late are no longer required to pay any fees. 

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