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Finally fine free: Pueblo library district drops overdue fines for most items

PUEBLO, Colo. ­­­— Pueblo City-County Library District is going fine free. Borrowers who have overdue library materials will no longer accrue fines on their library card account.
  
­­Fine-free materials include: books, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs and music CDs. However, there are exclusions that include: tablets, Chromebooks, internet hotspots, community passes and Interlibrary Loan materials. Digital resources, such as e-books, downloadable audiobooks and movies, are automatically returned on their due dates.
 
Library administration made the decision to do away with overdue fines with the hope to remove financial barriers as well as to provide equal library access for all Pueblo County residents. The policy took effect January 2.  
 
In 2020, of the 155,200 Pueblo library card holders, 19,388 patrons were blocked from checking out library materials until their fines were paid.
 
Many public libraries across the United States have gone fine free over the past few years. We recognized that in Pueblo, overdue fines were preventing equitable access to all customers especially in certain service areas. By eliminating overdue fines, we are aiming to reduce barriers for our customers who need our library services the most, especially during this difficult time,” said PCCLD Director of User Services Jill Kleven.
 
Now, if an item is overdue, borrowers will receive notifications at seven, 14 and 28 days. At 30 days the item will be declared as lost and the borrower will be billed the replacement cost in addition to a $5 processing fee. Should a lost item be returned, the replacement cost will be removed from the borrower’s account.
 
Revenue generated from overdue fines has been steadily dropping during the past decade. In 2010 nearly $120,000 in overdue fines were collected, this dropped down to $19,988 in 2019. This decline is due in part to a change in lending policies, such as increasing the loan limits of DVDs, lowering daily fine amounts and the addition of auto renewal in which an item can be renewed up to six times. Additionally, the library’s digital resource check outs have increased to 32 percent of total checkouts in 2020, compared to just 10 percent in 2018.
 
Currently there are 21 public libraries in Colorado that are fine free, including Pikes Peak Library District, Denver Public Library, Mesa County Libraries and Boulder Public Library.