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Santa Monica Public Library Drops Overdue Fines

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By Lookout Staff

February 9, 2022 -- You can now read all seven volumes of Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" without having to worry about getting a library fine.

Beginning March 1, the Santa Monica Public Library will eliminate fines for overdue books and materials under a new Fine Free for All program approved by the City Council Tuesday.

The program is meant to further the city's recovery from the coronavirus shutdown and is part of an effort "to remove barriers to accessing the Santa Monica Public Library," City officials said.

“Overdue fines create barriers to access for the very community members and populations that the library intends to serve," said Interim City Librarian Erica Cuyugan.

"Removing fines will give cardholders increased access to services and use of the library and its materials both virtually and at any of our locations,” Cuyugan said.

The Santa Monica Library launched a similar program in July 2018 that eliminated fines for youth 18 years old or younger who are Santa Monica Public Library cardholders.

That program, library officials said, "successfully increased Library use by that age group and supported the goal of building stronger ties with Santa Monica youth."

During the pandemic, the Library also temporarily suspended fines after the COVID-19 emergency was declared in March 2020.

The new change eliminating overdue fines for all cardholders does not apply to charges related to lost or damaged materials, which will continue.

Santa Monica joins a host of local libraries that have adopted similar programs, including the LA County Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Burbank Public Library.

“We are proud to join the nationwide movement to eliminate library fines and ensure free and equal access to books, information, and lifelong learning,” said Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich.

“If you are avoiding our libraries for fear of past or possible fines, please come back to take advantage of the tremendous resources and entertainment available.”

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