When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot decided to eliminate library late fees from Chicago Public Libraries back in October, the impact was immediate. Within three weeks, the number of overdue books returned increased by 240 percent. People who couldn’t afford to pay late fees were encouraged to return, helping turn the library back into a safe space.
Following Chicago’s lead, Los Angeles has announced that the city will stop collecting fines for past-due books and other materials this spring, part of a larger effort to make the 73-branch library system more welcoming to the city’s neediest residents. Garcetti said too many families are so worried about the possibility of financial penalties that they avoid taking advantage of the books, recordings and other materials that are lent for free.
Chicago and LA aren’t the only major cities to waive late fees. San Diego, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Oakland have all decided to eliminate late fees in recent months.