LOMPOC, Calif. – It's an issue that has plagued library book borrowers for generations: you check out something that interests you, you keep it a bit longer than you had planned and suddenly you're staring at a late fee.
If you're a Lompoc resident, the fear of overdue book fees are now a thing of the past.
On Tuesday, the city council voted to do away with late fees and forgive any outstanding fees borrowers may have accumulated over the years.
Previously, the Lompoc Public Library charged 25 cents per day for each late item.
While these late fees were meant to encourage people to bring back the borrowed media, library officials found the fines created a barrier for those who need access to the library the most. Studies have backed up these findings, officials said.
"Rather than motivating borrowers to return items on time, fines act as an inequitable barrier to service, disproportionately impacting minors, students and community members with limited financial resources," the city said in a news release.
These late fees were so prevalent, more than a quarter of all library accounts were blocked due to unpaid fines, the city said. Many of these blocked accounts belong to minors, students and members of the community with limited financial resources.
Ultimately, the city council decided to drop the fines at the Lompoc Public Library after determining they were ineffective at getting materials returned on time.
The city hopes that going fine-free will also lead to some long-missing library items being returned.
Even though library fines are going the way of the dodo, that doesn't mean you can check out an item and never return it. The library will continue to charge fees for replacement items if something borrowed is lost or damaged.
Borrowing privileges will be suspended until damaged or lost item fines are paid, the city said.
If you have questions about the new fine-free program, you can call the Lompoc Library at 805-875-8775.
For more information on the Lompoc Public Library system, click here.