Each month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The October webinar (the full video recording is available after the break) focused on the topic of Equity of Access. The three webinar facilitators discussed why and how library fines and fees need to be re-considered in order to provide equitable access to all youth.

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“If you didn’t have library fines, no one would return anything,” I said this, to myself and others, time and again, over the course of the decade when I worked at a school with library fines. Worst of all, I had to receipt every five cents.

I didn’t feel our fine structure was unreasonable. After a two-day grace period, the school library charged five cents a day, for twenty-five a week, versus 25 cents per item, per day, over a seven-day week, totaling 1.75 a week at the public library.

Fines weres important because ittyhey were my funding source. Those fines and dimes for printouts and photocopies, supplemented with small grants, made up my materials budget. I struggled with charging students, but other schools charged more for printing. One librarian had hers in line with the supermarket photocopier, 25 cents per page.

Not that I ever went after fines or the overdue materials. There were only a handful of times that I stopped a kid at checkout for overdue books. More typically, I might not even remind them of overdues or outstanding fines if someone else was in earshot. When I left that school, the new librarian wanted to check the list of overdues. I guess she imagine a box or, at worst, a shelf of unprocessed returns.
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