Fine-Free Libraries

Library fines are an institution, no less than is like going to the library, borrowing a book, having it stamped and remembering when it’s due. But times change and institutions like libraries must change with them. Right now one of the issues with libraries is whether or not they can be fine-free.  The main obstacle is budget. Libraries are funded in different ways, and for some fines have been a source of revenue.  While it would affect some libraries, it turns out that for most the revenue from fines is not that big, sometimes less than one percent.  But libraries are changing in other ways too, many like me now borrow e-books with just a few clicks, and e-books time out on their own, just disappearing from a borrower’s device, so  fines cease to be an issue. One of the main reasons to go fine-free is access and  the groups who suffer as a result of fines.  One of the main groups affected is children—presumably because of their parents and the rides they have to rely on. Another group much affected by fines are people in minorities areas. Fines sometimes make it harder not only for minorities to use libraries  but also for people in rural areas, areas with fewer libraries and greater distances.  What I found interesting is that doing away with fines does not generally adversely affect the number of people who borrow books. In these days when libraries are more than they used to be (besides e-books, they sometimes feed those in need, offer wi-fi and allow homeless in) days when we speak of racial justice and greater equality, fine-free libraries, it does seem, do have a small role to play