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Tempe will no longer fine you for overdue library books

Starting this week, patrons of the Tempe Public Library will no longer be fined for overdue materials.

Like other cities in the Valley and elsewhere, Tempe is going fine free, citing a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities and pandemic financial hardship.

The policy took effect Monday.

“Tempe Public Library is committed to providing free and equitable access to resources for all residents and community members,” Tempe Public Library Deputy Director Jessica Jupitus said in a press release. “Our fine free policy makes that access possible, ensuring that library materials are always available to those who need them most.”

People who do not return borrowed items after 14 days will have to pay the replacement cost.

Both Maricopa County Library District and Phoenix Public Libraries eliminated late fees in 2019, and Scottsdale went to a fine-free system in 2020.

Phoenix officials said research shows overdue fines don’t affect whether or not something gets returned on time. The city was trying to avoid discouraging borrowers from checking books out, especially lower-income borrowers.

Bret Jaspers contributed to this report.

Senior digital editor Sky Schaudt joined KJZZ in 2015. Prior to working at KJZZ, Schaudt was a digital news editor at azcentral.com for nearly a decade.