Thousands of Loudoun County Public Library customers may soon have relief after the Loudoun County finance committee recommended the library's Board of Trustees eliminate the requirement for all overdue fines.
If the Library Board of Trustees is awarded the opportunity by the Board of Supervisors, trustees may chose to eliminate fines for 8,794 patrons adding up to thousands of dollars.
Library services will continue to enforce billing and collection for lost items going forward. Officials will also block patron card access if items are not returned or paid with “a reasonable time period.”
“Fines are being eliminated and that’s certainly true, but I also think it’s important to note that consequences are not being eliminated,” Dulles Supervisor Matthew Letourneau (R) said. “It is not as if it’s a free for all and you can come and take out a book and not have to return it –you still will get billed.”
Loudoun’s libraries charge customers who return or renew items after the due date 10 cents per day, per item, with a maximum fine of $5 per item. Customers are also financially responsible for lost or damaged items and are subject to have their library cards blocked when $10 or more in fines is incurred and unpaid. Some of those items include CDs, DVDs and e-materials.
The decision to eliminate the collection of overdue fines would impact revenue for the county, causing an estimated $262,000 loss in revenue.
Funds collected from fines has decreased in recent years as a result of more people utilizing online resources and e-books that return automatically and do not accrue fines, according to county staff.
Library Services reduced the overdue fines revenue budgeted for fiscal 2020 by $10,500 to $315,000 because of the downward trend related to the significant increase in patrons’ use of online resources and e-books.
The committee’s recommendation to eliminate the overdue fines will be up for a vote at a future Board of Supervisors meeting. If approved, the library trustees will then have the option to decide at its June 17 meeting if it will eliminate the requirement to collect fines.
The finance committee also recommended no changes to appropriations to Library Services for fiscal 2020 and directed county staff to monitor budget impacts.
The committee voted 3-0-1-1 on Tuesday with Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) abstaining and Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington (R) absent.
“All taxpayers will be paying for the fact that people don’t return library materials versus those who are guilty of not returning library materials, and I have a fundamental problem with that, and that’s essentially what does happen here,” Buona said.