Removal of late fines in Sarasota libraries proves successful

Since the removal of late fines in September, almost 300 people who previously owed fines returned to the library.

For many, the library is a place where they can escape to a fairy tale world or travel through time.

However, until recently, some people in Sarasota County were unable to take those journeys because of overdue books.

In September 2019, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously voted to remove late return fines in all Sarasota County libraries, which has since led to returned library property and an increase in library patronage.

After collecting data for about a year, library staff found 22% of adult library cardholders and 24% of students owed unpaid fines.

Fines of around 25 cents per day were collected for books and $1 for DVDs and videos. In 2018, the library collected $152,870 in fines.

Since getting rid of late return fines, there have been almost 300 people who previously owed fines return to libraries countywide with overdue materials.

The program has been rewarding, Director of Libraries and Historical Resources Renee Di Pilato said, because it allows people access to learning and all of the library’s resources.

“The fact that people can come to the libraries to learn again without fear of accruing fines and know they can come to library and access all our resources, it’s just really rewarding, and we’ve seen such a positive change,” Di Pilato said.

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