FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Fairfax County Public Libraries (FCPL) will no longer charge overdue fees and clear existing fines on most library mediums starting next year. The Board of Trustees approved this new policy at their virtual meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
This change will begin on Jan. 1, 2022. While most fines will be lifted, interlibrary loan materials, Chromebooks and mobile hotspots are among some of the classifications that will still have overdue fees.
“Equity is driving our shift to a fine-free model of library services; we don’t want accrual of overdue fines to deter anyone who wants to use the library,” FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said in a release.
FCPL found that “overdue fines disproportionately affected young people and those in low-income areas.” Blocked cards — or accounts that have more than $15 in fines and can no longer check out library materials — accounted for 17% of the system’s cardholder population before the pandemic, while blocked youth cards made up about 23% of the youth cardholder population.
The release said that “there appears to be a link between low-income communities and higher numbers of blocked library accounts.”
FCPL said that the move to a fine-free system has been made across the country. Systems that have already lifted fines found that their cardholders still return media on time.