Library's elimination of overdue fines increases book returns

Last year, the Chicago Public Library quit charging people fines for overdue books. The library lost out on the average $800-$900,000 they collect annually in late fees but the gain was that long overdue books came back to the shelves for someone else to read! From the Chicago Sun Times:

About 1,650 long-overdue books were returned in each of the five months after fines were eliminated Oct. 1, 2019. Before then, about 900 overdue books were returned each month, according to the library[…]

"As we see long-lost patrons and materials return to the library, the impact of eliminating overdue fines is clear," acting Library Commissioner Mary Ellen Messner said. "Chicagoans are connecting to their community libraries and using this resource without anxiety or financial barriers to access."

Readership also got a bump.

In the five months after abolishing fines, about 361,000 books were checked out, a 7% increase from a year earlier.

This sparked a memory from when I was a little kid of the time someone broke into my parents' car and stole a reused shopping bag containing our take-out dinner and some library books. The following day, the library books had been returned.

image: crop of photo by Skwanem (CC BY-SA 3.0)