Opening new doors to the library: no more youth fines

A message from  Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke

No more kids fines
With Summer Reading just around the corner, Multnomah County Library is removing late fines for all youth library materials and on youth accounts (ages 0-17), effective June 15. Children's and young adult items will no longer be charged late fines. You can read more about the specifics of the new structure here.

The public library is a partner to youth, parents, families and caregivers from birth through high school. Exposing children early to a world rich with words, songs and play helps them become readers and succeed in school and in life. We proudly serve youth of all ages with high-quality books, fun and captivating programs, research resources, homework help, and caring staff who offer personal assistance.

For many, late fines are a real barrier that stops children and families from using and benefiting from the resources the public library offers. With the support of the Multnomah County Library District Board, our library is changing this practice. All existing late fines on youth accounts and materials will be removed as of June 15, 2016.

Patrons of all ages will still be responsible for returning library material for others to use within seven weeks of the due date, or be charged the replacement value of that item. 

I wish you all a summer filled with fun and reading. Won’t you please come visit us at the library?


Vailey Oehlke,

Director of Libraries


I Think this is a really great idea! I have always return my library books immediately after finishing reading them. And I've always encouraged my children to do this as well, advising them that there's no need for the book to be laying around in our house if we finished reading it so it can be available to others. Like in every home in times of stress when the book was not returned on time in fines did accumulate. And I agree with what many others have stated that the child should not be punished because the book was not returned.
Under the new rules, what happens when the book isn't returned after 7 weeks and isn't paid for within a reasonable amount of time? Is the child's library card put on hold eventually, especially if the problem keeps recurring? Fines seem like a reasonable warning & a way to prevent children and adults from seeing the library as a place to get free books that don't ever have to be returned. I agree with some of the above, that fines can teach responsibility. How about just charging fines by age group? The littlest kids could pay a penny, and tweens could be charged a nickle. 25 cents seems way too much to charge kids borrowing on their own accounts -- can see how they'd fear checking anything out.
You are rewarding irresponsible behavior and encouraging discourtesy! The people who are waiting for a book or other item to be returned on its due date are being treated unfairly. Why should others have to wait up to four weeks longer for an item just because you have taken away the incentive to return it on time? I think it is time to file complaints with the Library Board about this unfair policy. This is discriminatory againstnthose who place holds on items and who return items promptly and courteously.
For popular books, the waitlines could potentially be HUGE. At 7 extra weeks per patron, popular books could be next to impossible to get, while they are sitting on some irresponsible person's shelf collecting dust. Bad idea!
I think this is a huge mistake. It teaches irresponsibility to both kids and parents. Often I have to wait for someone to return a book that I have on hold. This penalizes those who play by the rules. There is ample notification options available to alert you that materials are becoming due. It is also easy to renew items as long a there is not a hold on that item. Mult. Co library needs to review this decision. Libraries work because patrons respect the library and honor the rules. The library teaches great lessons on sharing and taking your turn. We don't need to introduce or reinforce bad behavior.
This is a perfect example of the bigotry of low expectations. Why is it that so many people are willing to believe that some people aren't capable of returning books in a timely manner? Fines are a deterrent; a reason to return books in a timely manner, so someone else can read it. Extracting the money isn't the point. Getting the book back for the next person is the point. How have the overdue stats changed since this policy was implemented? - percentage of books returned on time - average days overdue


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