County Library says Goodbye to Fines


    On Jan. 1, the Contra Costa County Library will eliminate overdue fines on all library materials, including books, magazines, DVDs and other materials. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the proposal on Dec. 11, with the goal of removing barriers and making access easy, equitable and enjoyable for all patrons.
    “Our libraries are open for the entire community to take advantage of all they have to offer,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “Saying goodbye to fines gives everyone an opportunity to restart their relationship with the library.” Of more than 650,000 cardholders county wide, 118,450 (18 percent) currently have their cards blocked due to fines and 43 percent of youth accounts currently owe a balance. “Families are staying away from the library because it’s simply too expensive for them,” said County Librarian Melinda Cervantes. “We don’t want people to have to choose between putting food on the table and reading.”
    Overdue material fines and material replacement charges make up approximately two percent of the Library’s revenue. Since 2013, revenue from fines and charges has decreased by 31 percent. During this same period, circulation of e-books and other digital resources has increased 128 percent. These types of electronic resources are already fine-free and benefit those with greater access to technology, an imbalance the Library is hoping to correct with this new policy.
    Eliminating overdue fines will also result in more positive customer interactions and allow staff to focus on creativity and exceptional service. “We have so many outstanding and enthusiastic staff members who would much rather spend their time helping someone find the next great read or learn how to use one of our online resources,” said Deputy County Librarian Nancy Kreiser. “They can spend more time making people smile.”
    The Contra Costa County Library is the first county library in California and the largest in the state to eliminate fines for everyone. Patrons will still be expected to return library materials on time. Checkout periods on materials will remain the same and patrons will incur a replacement charge if materials are not returned 30 days after the due date.
    For questions about the policy, contact Library Administration at or call 925-608-7700.

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