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.
“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.
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.