The Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley libraries will stop issuing late fees for overdue materials starting this summer, according to Goleta city officials.
The decision to eliminate late fees, which was unanimously approved by the Goleta City Council on April 6 upon the recommendation of the Library Advisory Commission, extends to existing fines that also will be forgiven.
Beginning July 1, patrons will be billed for items that are 30 days past due, and no overdue fines will be charged, a city spokeswoman said.
After materials are 30 days past due, the library will send out mailed notices to patrons. Once materials are 60 days past due, patrons will be billed for full replacement costs, city officials said. At 63 days past due, and $40 or more in fees, the library will forward the patron's account to a collection agency, and a $10 nonrefundable service charge will be added to the library account.
Goleta Valley Library director Allison Gray said she is "grateful to the City Council for taking this action."
"It will open up the wonderful services offered by our library system to those who could not previously make use of them and ensure that we are being inclusive in offering our services to everyone," Gray said.
According to numerous studies, eliminating fines increases goodwill between patrons and library staff and did not lead to an increase in late book returns, said city officials, noting that a number of libraries across the country have taken this step and found that it not only increased their circulation but brought back the people who most needed the library.
To read the City Council staff report, visit https://tinyurl.com/3xhszama.
The library system continues to offer sidewalk service at local branches from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
For more information on library services and ongoing virtual programming, visit www.GoletaValleyLibrary.org
Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.
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