City waives library fines for overdue children’s books permanently

Jul 24, 2017

On the book shelves at the Arnett Blvd. Branch library
Credit Alex Crichton

The city says it's building on the success of a pilot program that lifted fines on overdue library books, by making the program permanent.

Mayor Lovely Warren and Monroe County Library Director Patricia Uttaro made the announcement Monday at the Arnett Boulevard Branch Library in Rochester.

"Our one-year pilot program to eliminate library fines on children's books is no longer a pilot.  We are making this wonderful program permanent," Mayor Warren said.

The lifting of the fines applies to City branch libraries and the Central Library. 

She say children are borrowing more books and materials without fines than they did when the fines were in place.

Mayor Warren reads with a young patron at the library

"More than 20,000 additional materials have been checked out.  And we've seen an almost 10 percent increase in the number of library cards issued in the last year," she said.

The mayor says eliminating fines has had no effect on return rates.

Library Director Patricia Uttaro says they predicted a loss of $32 thousand dollars in revenue, and they budgeted for that.

"We found efficiencies in other places, like in heat, light and power, and supplies budget, and in other areas where we were able to make up that $32,000" she said.

Uttaro says removing the fines wasn't an easy decision, but it's all about removing barriers to use a library's many resources.

Catherine Haynes has six children, the last of whom is graduating this year.

She says the library has played a very important role in her children's development, and as a parent who couldn't get a library card because of fines, removing the fines is a gift to the community.

Here’s Mayor Warren talking about the important role the library played in her life:

The mayor reads with 6th grader Lahmara Hall at the Arnett Branch Library: