Dallas City Council Axes Library's Overdue Fines, Plans to Zero-Out Past Fines

The Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to eliminate library fines and to zero-out existing fine balances.

Have an overdue book or late fees from the Dallas Public Library? You're in luck. The Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to eliminate library late fees and to zero-out existing fine balances.

Customers with overdue books can either bring the book back, bring a replacement copy or volunteer at events to "work off" the fees twice a year.

Director of Libraries Jo Giudice sought the change to bring back customers who have not been able to access library services because of excessive fines, the Dallas library website said.

"The library's mission is to provide access for all," Giudice said in a statement. "Late fines create barriers by punishing people who are unable to pay them. Eliminating fines is an issue of equity."

The city council ordinance also eliminated the $1 fee for failure to present library card, the $4 replacement fee for a new library card and authorized the library director to administer two annual amnesty periods to forgive some or all fees accrued.

Late fines will no longer be assessed beginning immediately, the library website said. The library is working to zero-out existing balances, which could likely to take several weeks. Meantime, card holders visiting the library can request to have their accounts cleared of fines for returned materials.

According to the Dallas Library, under the fine-free rules, when an item is a week overdue, the account will be blocked from further checkouts until the overdue items are returned. The replacement cost of the book plus a processing fee will be charged to the account. These charges will be waived as soon as the book is returned. For customers who have lost items on their accounts and cannot pay the replacement cost, special events twice a year will give them an opportunity to "work off" the fees by volunteering or participating in other community activities.

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