Good news for procrastinating media borrowers: In a policy change announced Thursday, the Tacoma Public Library will permanently end its practice of collecting fines for overdue items, including books and movies and even wi-fi hotspots. The library system will also waive existing fines, said library staff in a news release.
“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh. We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here,” said Tacoma Public Library Director Kate Larsen in a statement.
Tacoma’s library system is just the latest in the region to reconsider charging patrons for late returns.
In January 2020, the Seattle Public Library stopped assessing late fees, with funds from the 2019 Library Levy making up for lost revenue. But the system still typically suspends accounts if items are not returned within 14 days of their due dates. That time period was extended to 31 days during COVID-19. In a similar move, Pierce County Library System and King County Library System stopped assessing late fines at the start of the pandemic.
The pandemic also prompted Tacoma Public Library to stop charging overdue fines in March 2020. Thursday’s announcement makes the change permanent. Fees for lost or damaged materials may still apply.