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Santa Barbara Public Library Eliminates Fines for Overdue Materials

The Santa Barbara Public Library will stop charging overdue fees beginning today, following a move by dozens of libraries in California and nationwide. 

The Santa Barbara City Council voted to eliminate overdue fines for library materials earlier this month. Library Director Jessica Cadiente said the change will increase access for all library users. 

"Santa Barbara Public Library’s mission is to best serve its community and provide equitable access to all, and overdue fines were in opposition to this goal," said Cadiente. “Eliminating fines eliminates barriers to use, and we want everyone to feel confident and welcome to use the Santa Barbara Public Library." 

A replacement fee will be charged if materials are missing 30 days past the due date, but the fee can be waived if the item is returned in good condition before 60 days. Currently, items that do not have other patrons waiting to use them are automatically renewed up to 5 times. Patrons will receive updates at a registered email address, or via text message. 

Fine revenue represented less than 1% of the total Library budget, and the amount of staff time required to collect fines exceeds revenue. 

Libraries across California and the country are eliminating overdue fines, including most Bay Area libraries, San Diego Public Library, and LA County Public Library. In the Black Gold Consortium, to which Santa Barbara Public Library belongs, San Luis Obispo Public Library and Paso Robles Public Library have recently eliminated fines. Many libraries reported improvements in patron relationships with the library and increased the efficiency of staff time after eliminating fees, an increase in active cardholders, and even without fines, 95% of items are still returned on time. 

Eliminating fines was a key step in implementing Library Cards for Student Success, a partnership between Santa Barbara Public Library and Santa Barbara Unified School District that will allow parents or guardians to opt-in so that their child receives a public library card automatically at enrollment. The Library hopes to expand the program to include more local districts in the coming years. 

Answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Library’s website. Visit the Santa Barbara Public Library System online at for information about programs and services. All library programs are free and open to the public.


Contact: Molly Wetta, Acting Library Manager

Phone: (805) 564-5642




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