County of Marin - News Releases - Elimination of Youth Late Fees

For Immediate Release
March 26, 2015

Library Proposes Elimination of Youth Late Fees

Item goes before Board of Supervisors on March 31

San Rafael, CA – A plan to eliminate fines for late Marin County Free Library (MCFL) materials checked out by youths is to be brought before the Marin County Board of Supervisors on March 31.

MCFL would like to codify a “clean slate” policy for kids under age 18 who have amassed fines and fees for overdue or lost materials. Library officials said it is common for youngsters to have overdue fines and owe money for materials not returned, and it’s also common that the fines emerge as a barrier to library visits because of collection procedures. In some cases, kids have avoided visiting the library for years because of money owed.

The existing fine schedule is 25 cents per item per day and a maximum of $3 per item. A new policy would establish a procedure for the Director of Library Services, Sara Jones, to approve amnesty of fines and fees in partnership with schools and other youth organizations. The policy is intended to reduce barriers in the use of materials and give kids a new chance to visit the library branches and use online services.

“This policy is fairly common in public libraries across the country and has documented outcomes in increasing the sustained use of the library,” Jones said.

The motivation to change the policy comes from the MCFL’s needs assessment and strategic plan developed in 2014. Among the goals that emerged from that effort were to support family literacy and youth development by presenting the library branches as the preferred place for children, families and caregivers to connect, learn and grow together. Another was to support youths with opportunities for self-discovery and expression through strategic partnerships.

Jones said an expected reduction in MCFL revenue from fines and fees would be absorbable in the current budget. “The positive outcomes of serving the disadvantaged and underserved youth in our community that need our services will be far more valuable,” she said.   

The elimination of fines for youths would go into effect April 1 if the plan receives Board approval. In addition, MCFL would no longer charge $1 to replace library cards lost by youths. The new policies would not affect policy in city libraries.

The public hearing is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. March 31 (subject to change) in the Board chamber, Suite 330 of the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. Board meetings are webcast live and aired on Comcast public access TV stations.


Sara Jones
Marin County Free Library

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6051
Email: Sara Jones
Library website