On July 1, 2019, the Livermore Public Library moved from an overdue fines model to a materials recovery model. This means that patrons will no longer owe an overdue fine if they need to return an item a few days late. In order to encourage the return of materials so others may enjoy them, patrons with items overdue by one week or more will not be able to check out additional items until the late items have been returned. Patrons will still be billed for the cost of an item once it is four weeks overdue. This change was recommended by the Library Board of Trustees and Library staff, and was approved by the Livermore City Council on June 10, 2019.
The purpose of moving from an overdue fines model to a materials recovery model is to eliminate unnecessary barriers to usage for all residents, while still encouraging the timely return of library materials. “Fines can present a significant hurdle to those who are economically disadvantaged, and have the most need for library resources,” said Library Services Director Tamera LeBeau. “It supports the Library’s mission of free and equal access to move to this type of model.”
The American Library Association established this change as a best practice for libraries when they adopted a “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity” in January 2019. A number of libraries in the Bay Area and across the nation have successfully moved to this type of model. Library staff hope this is a welcome change that is more equitable for all community members.