St. Louis’ two largest library systems are going fine-free starting this month. St. Louis County Library (SLCL) and St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) announced today that they will no longer charge fines on late materials beginning in the new year.
The Board of Trustees for both libraries approved the elimination of fines in December 2019. Revenue attributed to fines has fallen steadily in recent years. The Boards decided on the change as a way of reducing barriers and increasing equity for library users.
“We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and increase access to library materials and services,” said St. Louis County Library Director Kristen Sorth. “Removing overdue fees helps make the library’s resources more accessible and supports literacy efforts for our entire community.”
Cardholders will still be responsible for returning items and paying for any lost or damaged materials.
Patrons at SLCL will still receive reminders to return materials. An email notice is sent two days before items are due, at that time eligible items will be automatically renewed. Email notices for overdue items will be sent at several intervals prior to an item reaching 45 days overdue, at which time SLCL will bill the patron for the cost of the item. If a patron returns a billed item, no overdue charges will be assessed.
All SLPL customers will still receive notices when items are due, and again if items are not returned. After 42 days, unreturned items will be considered lost and customers will be responsible for those items.
SLCL and SLPL are joining a number of other library systems across the country in eliminating fines. Recently, Chicago Public Library became the largest library system to eliminate overdue fines.
“Public libraries provide vital resources and life enrichment throughout our communities,” said St. Louis Public Library CEO Waller McGuire. “Individuals, families, businesses, adults, children—the world comes through our doors and networks. Our boards voted to open more doors by eliminating fines. It is a wonderful gift for St. Louis and a great step forward for the region.”