Chandler libraries still charging late fees - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler libraries still charging late fees

January 4th, 2022 development
Chandler libraries still charging late fees

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and Maricopa County libraries all have dropped the late fee for returning overdue items but Chandler still charges tardy users.

But there’s a chance that could end in 2022.

“Valley libraries are starting to pick this up. I don’t think that Chandler wants to be the only library still continuing to be charging fines for any long period of time,” said Rachelle Kuzyk, the manager of the Chandler Library.

She said her staff has submitted a decision packet on what the loss of revenue from the late fees would mean for the budget as city officials continue to work on spending plans for the coming fiscal year.

It would be up to the City Council to decide if whether to drop the overdue fees or not and the decision could become part of its action on the 2022-23 budget. Kuzyk said the overdue fees bring in about $40,000 to $50,000 in revenue annually.

Most library items can be checked out for three weeks in Chandler. Late fees range from 20 cents a day to a dollar a day, depending on the item (books are 20 cents, DVDs are a dollar). The maximum fine is $10, or half the cost of replacing the item, whichever is less.

“Back in the very beginning of my library career, libraries used to charge for memberships,” Kuzyk said. “Libraries and communities are realizing that it’s not really an incentive for people to bring material back in time.”

She said the way they serve the public has also changed. People who check out e-books online never have to worry about paying a late fee because the platform automatically return the item on its due date.

“Fine collection has definitely decreased in general because of e-content use,” Kuzyk said. “I think it’s something that at this point it is something we can consider asking the Council to remove.”

She said the pandemic has caused many of their members to make the switch from traditional books to e-books. That’s when they noticed a steep decline in the revenue they were collecting from overdue fees.

Kuzyk said if the Council does take this step, it will not eliminate all fines.

“The elimination of fines is specific to overdue fines,” she said. “Any damaged materials, lost items, processing fees, inter-library loan fees, those are not going away.”

The potential downside to eliminating overdues fees is that people hold on to those items longer. If it’s a popular item and others are waiting, that could be a problem.

Kuzyk said she would appeal to everyone to realize there may be others waiting and to return it on time even if they don’t have to worry about the fine.

She said there is also a humanitarian aspect to eliminating late fees.

“During economic difficult times, like COVID or when you have the market’s bubble crashing, and people are out of work and things, libraries become more important during those periods of time than they are periods of prosperity.”

“Not having fines while people are experiencing difficulty, is, I think, a way for the city to support its community.”

Some of the Valley cities that killed late fees also did it for another reason: encourage people to read books.