The Nashville Public Library is considering an end to late fees for overdue materials. That would make a small dent in the library’s budget, but leaders say they have a good reason to make the change.
In his budget hearing this week, Library Director Kent Oliver made the case to the mayor that the city can do without an estimated $159,000 in fines — an amount that has been declining in recent years.
More importantly, Oliver said he doesn’t want residents with fines to never come back. As it stands, there are about 50,000 library patrons whose cards are blocked because they owe more than $20 in fines.
“We’re never going to see that money,” he said.
He believes the barrier could be especially daunting for low-income families.
“If you are an at-risk family or a family on a fixed income, and maybe through no fault of your own your kids check out a bunch of stuff that you’re not aware of and you suddenly have $30 or $40 in fines … chances are, you’re not going to come back,” he said.
All of this said, the library would still keep track of items that have not been returned. So while daily fees wouldn’t add up, patrons would still need to pay once the library considers an item lost.
Meanwhile, the library has requested funding to further its capital plan, including renovations to three branches and construction of a new library in Donelson.