City of Santa Barbara logoThe Santa Barbara City Council approved a proposal to forgive outstanding fines and fees on library accounts in order to facilitate the transition to a new catalog and welcome patrons back to the Library.

In July 2019, the Santa Barbara Public Library discontinued charging late fees on overdue Library materials to further the mission of equity and access. At the time, patron accounts with existing fees and fines remained on their Library account. Prior to going fine-free, patrons could accumulate up to $24.99 before their access to check out additional materials was blocked. The limit was reduced to $9.99 when overdue fines were eliminated. Library patrons who have had their account blocked from checking out materials will have a “clean slate” after April 15, 2022 and will be able to check out library materials again.

“Many of these outstanding fines and fees are more than 4 years old, and many are simply overdue fines for a couple of items that together exceed the $10 limit,” said Jessica Cadiente, Library Director. “Giving community members a fresh start as we migrate accounts to a new catalog system allows them the opportunity to return to the library, and is in line with the Library’s mission of reducing barriers to access.”

Santa Barbara continues to charge replacement cost fees if items are not returned within 30 days of their due date. If a patron returns the items before it is 60 days overdue, the Library returns the item to the circulating collection and waives the replacement cost. If an item is not returned within 60 days of its due date, the replacement charge is permanent and cannot be waived.

For the past several years, SBPL has been investigating ways to improve the catalog with an enhanced ILS discovery layer and offer additional functionality for an improved user experience. In October 2021, Council approved that SBPL move forward with the Koha ILS and Aspen Discovery Layer and withdraw its library patron records and its library holdings from Black Gold’s proprietary Polaris catalog and import them into the new, open-sourced ILS product Koha.

To facilitate a more efficient data transfer without the burden of migrating fines and fees to the new ILS and to encourage patron use of the new catalog without fines and fees, the Library Department proposed to forgive all outstanding fines and fees in advance of April 15, 2022, the go-live date of the new catalog.

The Santa Barbara Public Library is a department of the City of Santa Barbara. All library programs are free and open to the public.