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HR-31 (2021-2022)

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Revised  April 08, 2021


House Resolution
No. 31

Introduced by Assembly Member Low
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Aguiar-Curry, Arambula, Bauer-Kahan, Bennett, Berman, Bigelow, Bloom, Boerner Horvath, Bonta, Burke, Calderon, Carrillo, Cervantes, Chau, Chen, Chiu, Choi, Cooley, Cooper, Cunningham, Megan Dahle, Daly, Davies, Flora, Fong, Frazier, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Lorena Gonzalez, Gray, Grayson, Irwin, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Kiley, Lackey, Levine, Maienschein, Mathis, Mayes, McCarty, Medina, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Nguyen, O’Donnell, Patterson, Petrie-Norris, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Ramos, Rendon, Reyes, Luz Rivas, Robert Rivas, Rodriguez, Blanca Rubio, Salas, Santiago, Seyarto, Smith, Stone, Ting, Valladares, Villapudua, Voepel, Waldron, and Ward)

March 24, 2021

Relative to National Library Week.


HR 31, as introduced, Low.

WHEREAS, Libraries work to meet the information and recreational needs of all members of their communities, striving to provide programming, materials, and services in an equitable manner; and
WHEREAS, Charging late fines discourages or prohibits Californians most in need of library services from access to those services; and
WHEREAS, Overdue fines go against libraries’ missions to provide equitable services because fines disproportionately affect low-income residents, who are more likely to experience financial burdens, restrictive schedules, and lack of transportation that make it difficult to visit the library; and
WHEREAS, Late fees create a barrier to accessing reading materials, especially for children, as parents can be reluctant to check out materials for their children for fear of incurring fines and fees; and
WHEREAS, Research shows that charging late fines does not bring back borrowed materials faster, as there is no significant difference between the late return rates in libraries that charge late fines and those that don’t; and
WHEREAS, Revenue generated by fines is less than 1 percent of the library budget for the majority of libraries. When libraries factor in the cost of charging and collecting late fines, they often find that they are spending as much as, if not more than, they are collecting; and
WHEREAS, Patrons with overdue fines often have their library accounts blocked because they cannot afford to pay their fines, which is particularly challenging during the pandemic when they need to access online services such as ebooks and database research; and
WHEREAS, During the pandemic, paying late fines puts an extra burden on already financially strapped people, and collecting late fines is particularly onerous for libraries with buildings closed and staff working remotely; and
WHEREAS, Libraries all over the country have been addressing this inequity by dropping late fines, and have not seen an increase in the amount of materials returned late, nor a decrease in revenues collected; and
WHEREAS, Libraries that change their policy and stop charging late fines have welcomed back patrons who were barred from borrowing because of blocked accounts, issued cards to new borrowers, and tracked an increase in circulation in many instances; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly celebrates California public libraries, such as the Santa Clara County Library District and the Tehama County Library, for their recent decisions to stop charging late fines; and be it further
Resolved, That the Assembly expresses appreciation to the California public libraries that have stopped collecting late fines, including those in the County of Santa Clara and the County of Contra Costa, the San Diego Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library, the Tulare County Library, the Victorville City Library, and many others; and be it further
Resolved, That the Assembly urges cities, counties, and special districts throughout the state to consider abolishing late fines as a way to increase access for the people in their communities who need the library the most; and be it further
Resolved, That the Assembly declares April 4, 2021, to April 10, 2021, inclusive, National Library Week and celebrates the importance of our public libraries to communities across California; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the board of supervisors and county executive of each county and city and county in the state, and to the author for appropriate distribution.

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