After dispensing with fines, Seattle Public Library dispenses with fine dispensers.

Back on January 2, 2020, joining a movement being embraced by many public libraries across the country, the Seattle Public Library decided to end its longheld practice of charging late fees for items returned after their due dates. The move has been a rousing success, restoring access to many Seattlites for whom excessive late fees had become a barrier, while having no appreciable impact on library revenues and a net positive effect on our return rates. Although the change faced some initial skepticism from many patrons conditioned to late fees, almost everyone now sees this as a long overdue move to end an antiquated, regressive and overly punitive policy. Almost everyone.

Patron: “Make the scofflaws pay!”

However, on April 1, 2022, in an effort to tailor our services to patron demand, and, frankly, bowing to pressure from one extremely outspoken citizen (who shall remain unnamed) with an abundance of time on their hands to write letters demanding that we “bring back sanity to our libraries” by “making those scofflaws pay,” for their “obnoxious delinquency,” the Library added a new button to our popular Short Story Dispenser. When pressed, rather than producing a short story like the other buttons, this button would print a slip of paper charging the user a randomly generated fine of between twenty-five cents and one-hundred-and-seventeen dollars.

No fines, just stories

While our intentions were good, one year later the library has decided to pull the plug on this pilot program, restoring the dispenser to its more usual fare of short stories, including stories by local authors. (If you’re curious about the dispenser, you’ll find one at the Library’s Central Branch, and another on tour, currently visiting the library’s Fremont Branch.) After 365 days of dispensing fine slips, the library has collected precisely $5.25 in fines, eventually restored to a unduly chastened Canadian visitor who did not understand that the fines were not obligatory. Rest assured that any persons who have created fine slips over the past year and who for whatever reasons still wish to voluntarily give money to the library may do so by contacting The Seattle Public Library Foundation, where in honor of Library Giving Day, donations made through April 4 will be matched. Those seeking other ways to contribute to the library should also explore The Friends of the Seattle Public Library.

     ~ Posted by David W.

2 thoughts on “After dispensing with fines, Seattle Public Library dispenses with fine dispensers.”

  1. … Is this affiliated with the Seattle Public Library? or is this a phishing link.

    Will report this as potential scam to appropriate authorities.

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