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Washoe County Library Board of Trustees Approves Eliminating Fines

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Andrea Tavener

Effective August 20, 2020.

At their August 19, 2020 meeting, the Washoe County Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved the elimination of fines on overdue books and materials effective August 20, 2020.  Borrowers are still responsible for replacement costs for lost items.

Library closures during the COVID-19 pandemic required all industries to review processes and implement changes to better serve the people in their communities, both during the crisis and into a still uncertain future.  Public libraries strive to serve their citizens, and access to a healthy collection is part of that process. In light of these tumultuous times, the Library System believes that the elimination of fines supports their goal of providing access to materials, while providing some relief to patrons. 

The Washoe County Library Board of Trustees agreed with Library staff that going fine-free will help to reduce barriers to service and develop a connection with the community that does not involve the negative association with fines.  The change in the policy will help to expand access to library services among groups that might otherwise struggle to return materials on time or keep up with payments, including low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. In some cases, fine-free policies can actually work to improve library circulation — and even the library’s bottom line.

Library users with limited income tend to stay away from libraries because they may be afraid of incurring debt. Often these same users will also stay away if they have already incurred a fine simply because they don't have the money to pay the fine.  According to Washoe County Library Director Jeff Scott, “The Washoe County Library is  happy to be able to join many libraries across the country in removing overdue materials fines as a barrier for patrons and we look forward to welcoming back many patrons and long-missing materials in the near future.”

Washoe County Library book drops are available all day and overnight from Monday at 9 am to Friday at 6 pm (excluding partnership libraries).  Book drops are closed on weekends. The book drops are only for the return of library materials. The Library is still unable to accept donated items at this time. Face coverings are required for all staff and visitors to Washoe County Libraries.  For more information on library services please visit washoecountylibrary.us

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