Starting Wednesday, penalties for overdue books and other materials checked out from Riverside municipal libraries will no longer be assessed.
The Riverside City Council on Tuesday voted to rescind the fee schedule on past-due items based on a report that the fees were having a disproportionately significant impact on low-income residents.
“This decision eliminates the possibility that a Riverside child could see his or her library privileges revoked over a fine of a few dollars,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “The ability for our residents to use the library for a job search, or a homework assignment, is worth more than these small fines.”
Library Director Erin Christmas authored the report to the council, stating that low-income residents were the most impacted by penalties, which had the added undesirable result of libraries permanently losing items because residents facing overdue fees were less likely to bother returning anything.
Late fees for adult library card holders had been 25 cents per day and 10 cents per day for juvenile card holders. Those whose penalties exceeded $5 faced revocation of check-out and computer access privileges, and accounts in excess of $50 were placed in collection.
According to officials, the overdue penalties generally added about $5,000 to the city’s annual revenue.
The Board of Library Trustees unanimously endorsed the fee revocation plan ahead of the council’s vote.
Similar actions have occurred or are in the works in cities nationwide, including Chicago, Denver and San Francisco.
Officials emphasized that library users will still be financially responsible for permanently lost or damaged materials checked out from any of the city’s eight libraries.