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Libraries get tough

Increased fines for overdue books will help generate an extra $200,000 per year

Posted: May 31, 2009 10:29 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2009 8:00 a.m.
The fine for that overdue library book you've been meaning to return is about to go up.

The County of Los Angeles Public Library will increase late-return fines for library materials starting July 25. It also will increase fees on printing in library facilities. The fee and fine increases are part of an effort to encourage patrons to return library materials on time, and also to supplement revenues, a library official said.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the fee and fine increases at its May 26 meeting. The increases represent the first of their kind since 1994, said Pam Broussard, county library spokeswoman.

Increasing fees and fines will generate additional income for all 85 branches of the county library system and supplement the system's massive budget, she said.

"We project to generate approximately $200,000 in annual revenue from these fees," Broussard said.

The county library's operating budget for 2007-08 was $124,475,226, with a materials budget of $11,388,685, according to the county library's Web site.

County library officials began looking at a fee increase in early 2008. They presented a revised fee schedule to the Board of Supervisors in late April of 2009, Broussard said.

Under the approved plan, late fines on children's books will jump from 10 cents per day to 15 cents per day, while late fines for general library materials will increase from 25 cents to 30 cents per day, she said.

The time period that library users are allowed for books and materials they check out remains unchanged - it's 21 days.

The fee to replace lost library materials will increase from $7.50 to $10, Broussard added.

County library branches will allow free printing from county Internet-accessible computers for the first 10 pages, but each page after the 10th page will cost 15 cents, Broussard said.

The fines and fees aren't solely designed to penalize patrons and generate dollars.

"It's primary function is to encourage the timely return of materials," Broussard said. "That way the materials are available for other people who want them."


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