KENNEWICK — The Mid-Columbia Libraries announced in a press release on Nov. 26 that as of Jan. 1, 2020, they will no longer be charging late fees on overdue materials.
“Overdue fines create barriers to using the library for many in the community, especially children and families, therefore reducing access to learning opportunities during periods of critical learning and development,” stated the press release. “MCL wants to ensure all customers —regardless of age, background, or socioeconomic status — have equitable access to MCL’s collections, programs, and services.”
Customers with overdue books will still continue to receive overdue notices and are encouraged to return books in a timely manner. Those customers who have outstanding overdue fees will receive fee forgiveness.
Books that are lost or damaged will continue to be charged to customer’s accounts. The charges are to replace the book so others can continue to enjoy.
The Mid-Columbia Libraries board adopted the new policy in the form of a resolution on Nov. 19. The library staff recognizes that past-due balances are rarely collected and that the amount of money it would take to collect the outstanding fees is more than they would expect to receive.
Moving away from overdue fees is a trend happening across the United States. Seattle, Spokane and Whatcom County public libraries are also eliminating their overdue fees.