San Diego may eliminate library fines

March 25, 2018 by  

San Diego is considering dropping the fines it charges people who bring items back to the city’s libraries late.

The main reason for the change would be to make the libraries accessible to the city’s poor, but officials say the change would also increase circulation, save money, and give the system a better image.

An expert in academics, as well as city officials, believes that fining people for returning items late creates an unfortunate adversarial relationship between library users and the library itself. The result is that some people stop borrowing books, while others turn them in late and in poor condition, something they believe would not occur if the fines were dropped.

Misty Jones is the head librarian for the City of San Diego. She says that studies have shown that levying fines doesn’t encourage people to return items on time, instead, it makes the whole experience unpleasant. She says the psychology is interesting, as people apparently feel if they have to pay a fine, they will keep the materials as long as possible. Without a fine, people tend to turn things in more quickly, and in better shape.

The city council will consider the measure next month.

Issues like this may affect many thousands of people, so officials might consider working with a flyer printing company to create a mailer that discusses the matter in detail.