Eliminating Fines on Youth Materials

Ramsey County Library has eliminated late fines for children’s and teen materials as of January 1, 2020 to support early literacy and student educational achievement. The Library also did a one-time waive of existing charges for patrons under 18 to ensure that the Library privileges of all youth patrons would be intact at the start of the year.

Patrons checking out youth materials will continue to be charged for lost or damaged items, and privileges will be suspended if charges exceed $10. We will increase the number of reminder notices we send regarding due dates. These policies will help maintain the timely return of materials.

Ramsey County Library will continue to offer Read It Down for youth to address charges from lost or damaged items or overdue adult materials.

Q: Why not eliminate all fines?

A: We are focused on removing barriers for youth to the Library’s learning resources. There are serious educational achievement gaps in our community, and we can't afford to block the library access of any youth. Research shows that fines on youth materials result in parental decisions to not use the library. Many youth are also blocked from using the library due to fines that were beyond their control. By eliminating fines for youth materials, we are addressing these specific barriers. It is a priority to connect youth to library resources in order to support their literacy and learning. This drives our focus on youth and their parents.

Q: Will people return items if there are no late fines on these materials?

A: We do not anticipate a change in patron behavior regarding returning items. The Library will continue to charge for lost or damaged materials. If a patron incurs charges above $10, they will lose their account privileges. We will increase the number of reminder notices we send regarding due dates. These policies will support the timely return of materials.

Q: How will this initiative affect the Library's budget?

A: Eliminating this revenue will not affect Library collections, technology, programs or services. The Library’s 2020-2021 budget includes funds to offset the decreased revenue (estimated to be about $159,000). The budget will support the library’s services and operations.