Farewell to fines, and what else just changed at Seattle Public Library

Going back to before last year’s vote on the Seattle Public Library levy, much discussion focused on its inclusion of a plan to end overdue-material fines. That just kicked in, but it’s not the only change that’s taking effect. From the library’s announcement:

… The Library continues to urge residents to return their library items. It will send reminders via email, text and phone. Patrons will receive notices to remind them when materials are due, as well as when they are past due. Patrons will still be responsible for paying replacement fees for lost or damaged items. Outstanding fees for lost and damaged items will not be waived. …

As part of the new policy:

· Patrons will now be able to renew items up to three times if no one else is waiting for them

· The Library will change its notification schedule to help borrowers remember to return their items, and patrons can now sign up for text-message reminders

· Patrons who do not return an item within 14 days after it’s due will have their Library account suspended until they’ve returned the item or paid the replacement fee

· The Library will consider an item lost if it is not returned after 31 days past its due date, and a replacement fee will be added to the account

· Patrons can find details on the new policies at spl.org/NoLateFines

The change means the reinstatement of about 51,000 accounts, SPL says. Meantime, the levy also is adding hours of operation, starting this Sunday, when all branches will open an hour earlier, noon instead of 1 pm. Delridge Library also soon will be open on Fridays because of levy funding, which is expanding hours at High Point and South Park too.

14 Replies to "Farewell to fines, and what else just changed at Seattle Public Library"

  • Question Authority January 3, 2020 (9:03 am)

    I like the (no accountability) part of not having to pay fines, when is the City going to allow that when it comes to taxes, tickets and fees?  Why stop the freebie train at the Library when more work needs to be done holding all of us free of the burden of authority.  Rise up Comrades!

    • zark00 January 3, 2020 (11:44 am)

      It’s not about freebies and no accountability – if you don’t return the materials you will be charged for replacements and your account will still be locked until you pay for the replacement.  It’s about not forever blocking library access to people based on a very small amount of money owed. Seriously, taking issue with library accessibility for people of lesser means is pretty low – even for a right wing troll it’s an embarrassingly petty opinion.  You also think we shouldn’t feed school children if they owe $1.50 on their school lunch tab?  Should we also stop giving people free bus rides to medical services when they can’t afford it?  How about we just pull up the ladder, tell anyone of lesser means than ourselves to get bent, and build a giant wall to keep out the riff raff? Here’s a clue cupcake – you’re on the the bad side of that giant wall when it’s built.  You’re not the 1%, you’re the 99% with the rest of us.  How about you stop pretending to part of the elite and actually join the team you’re on and play some ball.

      • Jethro Marx January 3, 2020 (12:48 pm)

        You’re wrong on the teams- when you’re on a team you want to win, and you pretend things to that end, like whether it was pass interference, or whether the president ought to be impeached, or which color boat you love the most on the Jumbotron; you frame the issue as between the 1% and the 99%, while we ought to discern between nonsense and wisdom as well as we can, regardless of our socio-economic position.

        • zark00 January 3, 2020 (3:51 pm)

          I second that – this person REALLY needs a library.I don’t think you used all the words you needed to have used for your comment to actually make sense.However, it seems crystal clear from what you did type that I was dead on about the team you’re on – news flash – they don’t care about you, they’re not passing legislation that benefits you, you’re being fooled and taken advantage of and they’ve turned you into an ignorant mouthpiece for rhetorical drivel like “No MOre FReeEbiEs!! derp!” Which you happily spew with zero thought, effort, or understanding of what’s actually going on.  It is, sadly, very typical of republicans. I assume you also believe that all the people on food stamps are gaming the system, that drug use is the root cause of homelessness, and that republicans are pro ‘family values’.  News flash – none of that is true.Since you wildly misunderstood, I’ll take a moment to explain to you.The 1%, the richest people in America, benefit from republican policy.The other 99%, the rest of us including you, suffer under republican leadership. Those are the teams to which I was referring.  You are on the wrong one.  You’re at a Seahawks game, in a Hawks jersey, with Hawks season tickets, but you’re rooting for the 49ers. 

          • Jethro Marx January 3, 2020 (7:46 pm)

            I’m not sure if you’re replying to me or the other questioner of authority, but I don’t believe any of that stuff you said. 100% of us suffer under inept policy; it’s fine to pick a side of the aisle, politically, if that’s your thing, but can we accept that our teammates, occasionally, are wrong and/or ridiculous and call it like we see it? I mean, I love the Seahawks, but by now I am used to begrudging acknowledgement of our opponents’ accomplishments against us, if you can call that rooting. The world you describe lacks nuance, and that is something nature has in spades. And that is the exact number of words I require.

          • Zark00 January 4, 2020 (1:56 pm)

            You can stick your head in the sand and pretend things aren’t true, that just makes you ignorant. So I guess you’re proudly ignorant? Nice. Seems like a weird choice unless you truly think ignorance is bliss. Maybe it’s easier for you to just color everything black and white so you can ignore what’s actually happening. No library fines just means “freebies” to you. You don’t put in any effort to actually understand the why, you don’t look deeper than your republican talking points, you just think “I paid fines so everyone has to too!”. It’s a myopic, sad, misanthropic state of mind. The pull up the ladder mentality is pathetic.

    • Seriously? January 3, 2020 (1:38 pm)

      You should visit the library to brush up your reading skills, or learn how to read beyond a headline. There are clear limits set, limits that are clearly stated in the body of the article. If an item is 14 days late, the account is suspended. After 31 days, the item is considered lost and you must pay to replace the item. But, again, to find that, you would have to have actually read the entire thing. 

    • Peter January 3, 2020 (2:47 pm)

      This is far from no accountability. There will still be fines, there’s just a two week grace period, and if an item is never returned then the borrower is responsible for full replacement value. You would know that if you’d bothered to read the post before commenting. 

  • Geoff Patterson January 3, 2020 (9:44 am)

    That’s great news that hours are expanding. I love our Seattle (and King County) libraries.

  • KM January 3, 2020 (3:27 pm)

    I sometimes have an item that is 1-2 days late due to not wanting to take a single car trip to the library the day of or if it’s not feasible to walk there that day. I try to drive only a few times a week, and seems crazy to pay for a bus fare just to save a quarter or two for overdue fees. Not to mention on the small fees, you have to pay in cash at the library, rather than online. And they have the 2-week rule and replacement charges for items that aren’t returned. Win-win.

  • Olivia January 3, 2020 (3:52 pm)

    I’m thankful for our library and this thoughtful policy change. I’m also thankful to the donors who enabled them to make this huge impact! 

  • AMD January 3, 2020 (5:05 pm)

    As someone who was once sent to collections by the library, I am grateful to hear this.  :)

  • Chris K January 4, 2020 (8:41 am)

    SPL is moving in the right direction.  There is no valid argument whatsoever against removing barriers to access to library materials.  Education and information should not just be for rich white people.

  • Dan January 5, 2020 (8:17 am)

    I wish the SPL would have kept the fines and made the printers and copy machines free. The KCLS does a certain number of pages free each month for printing. Seeing that here at SPL would have been a game changer especially when you have to dig for change for a couple pages.  

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