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Tacoma Public Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

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Tacoma Public Library (TPL) recently announced it will permanently eliminate overdue fine collection on late items, as well as absorbing fees from missing or damaged items that incurred a charge on Jan. 1, 2016, or earlier from patron accounts.

“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh. We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here,” Director Kate Larsen said in a press release.

TPL stopped charging overdue fines in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic; the new policy ensures that this practice will continue.

“We feel there is no better time than now to affirm our commitment to our strategic priorities of equity and access by permanently doing away with overdue fines,” Larsen said in the release. “This has very little impact on our overall budget, yet for individual and household budgets, fines can really add up and have an adverse impact, and even prevent people from ever returning to the library.”

It is important to note that there is a difference between fines and fees. Fines are charges incurred for overdue items. Fees are charges for lost or damaged items. Items are considered lost when a patron notifies TPL that they have misplaced an item, or when an item is 81 days past its due date. TPL will continue to charge fees for lost and damaged items; fees vary by item type.

For more information and to learn about other TPL changes, click here.