Everything Fine With the Burbank Libraries Since Overdue Fines Now Abolished

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(Photo By Ross Benson)

In an effort to improve equity of access, Burbank Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines for late materials as of July 1, 2021.

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“While fines for overdue items may seem like a small burden, they can create a major barrier to service for those who are struggling financially,” said Library Services Director Elizabeth Goldman. “Too many people have made the choice to stop using the Library because of inability to pay or fear of accruing fines.”

In recent years, public libraries across North America have come to the same conclusion: The societal costs of fines outweigh any benefits. Research has shown that fines are not effective in getting materials returned on time, and libraries that have eliminated fines have found that long overdue items come back and patrons who avoided the library for years start visiting again.

“I’m so proud to see Burbank Public Library join over 200 other American cities in going fine free,” said Emily Weisberg, chair of the Burbank Board of Library Trustees. “Making this change will allow increased access to materials and services, especially for our younger patrons. By eliminating the barriers that fines represent, we’re better able to meet our mission of connecting our community members to opportunities for growth, inspiration and discovery.”

Burbank Public Library set a goal to make this policy changes as part of its 2021 Racial Equity Action Plan, which can be viewed at www.burbanklibrary.org. As with fines of many sorts, punitive library fines have the most detrimental impact on those who need the library the most. The country’s history of systemic racism means that people of color will be disproportionately affected by such fines.

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This change was approved by the Burbank City Council as part of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget process.

Items that are lost, damaged or never returned will still be assessed replacement fees, but upon return of an item – no matter how long overdue – all charges will be removed from a user’s account.

For more information, visit www.burbanklibrary.org or call (818) 238-5600.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The Burbank Public Library proposed a new central library amounting to a budget of more than $106.6 million with soft costs (aka consulting fees) of $21.9 million.

    I find it interesting you have go all the way to page 93 to find the proposed cost here: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/65497742/vision-for-the-new-burbank-central-library-march-2021

    I spoke with many people about the library and the response was the same…

    Most Burbankers don’t use the library and many of us, including me, only go there to vote.

    Digital publication is the norm and our book stores continue to shutter everywhere.

    I appreciate our public library workers but there are better ways to use $106.6 million. We have roads with pot holes everywhere. Trash litters our streets and most curbs have worn off paint. The basics are ignored everywhere. This is not the city I moved into in 1991.

    Like most property owners, the library should make do with what they’ve got. We all have grand ideas, it’s human nature, but that very expensive March 2021 study paid to The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP (again soft costs) was money the library could have used to update the existing libraries.

    Every government office wants to grow. I prefer they shrink or stay the same size.

    I do my reading online now. The last library I visited was being used by homeless people to stay out of the heat.

    Thoughts?

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