I am excited to begin the month of May with great news.
First, the King County Library System’s Board of Trustees has voted to eliminate late fines—a new policy many of our patrons have been urging us to implement.
On May 9, KCLS will stop charging late fines, and will clear all current late fines from accounts. Late fines generate little revenue, making up less than one percent of our budget. Yet they can be a barrier to library access, discouraging library use. Because KCLS strives to increase access for all King County residents, our goal for fines-free is not only to get books back, but to get readers back.
The resolution we presented to the Board, which passed unanimously, was based on six months of data, including how libraries around the country have fared with fines-free polices. Research showed that fines undermine equity; people most impacted by fines are those already facing economic, transportation, technology and other challenges. A data analysis also showed that eliminating fines leads to a higher rate of return of collection materials.
State law still requires the Library System to charge for lost or damaged materials.
For more information about the fines-free policy, visit our website.
As a fines-free library system, libraries can become a bigger part of everyone's future. We hope the new policy will have a profound and positive effect on people who need us most.
This month also features the launch of expanded hours—another eagerly awaited development. KCLS has been working steadily to get the needed and budgeted staffing levels in place to ensure a successful transition and enhanced access to programs, services and our collection.
Starting May 14, we will roll out the expanded hours in 17 of our community libraries. The expansion will occur in phases. These libraries will be open a minimum of 6 days a week, with some open seven days a week.
The first libraries to expand hours will be Vashon, Bothell, Shoreline, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Richmond Beach.
On May 21, Auburn, Enumclaw, Algona-Pacific, Black Diamond, Covington and Muckleshoot will add hours to their schedules. Fairwood, Kent, Kent-Panther Lake, Maple Valley and Southcenter will expand hours beginning May 30.
In other positive news, KCLS’ Kraken watch parties have been a hit with fans. May is Older Americans Month, featuring both special events and year-around programs honoring all those 50 and older (who also make up 35 percent of KCLS cardholders). For more information, see kcls.org/older-adults.
This month is a great time to visit your local library, taking advantage of new hours and programs, no fines, great staff and a fabulous collection. We hope to see you soon!