Salt Lake County libraries remove late fees for kids and teens

Apr 12, 2024, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Some welcome news for families that use libraries in Salt Lake County. Kids and teens will no longer have to pay late fees on library materials from any Salt Lake County library.

At a Thursday ceremony at the Granite branch, Salt Lake County leaders highlighted that county libraries will no longer charge late fees on books, music, and movies for kids and teens.

The change was recently approved after a pilot program studied the issue last summer – the pilot was championed by County Mayor Jenny Wilson and the Salt Lake County Council.

“One of the great parts about serving our community as a County Councilmember is being able to support projects that have such a positive impact on the residents of Salt Lake County,” Salt Lake County Council Chair Laurie Stringham said.

Member Ann Granato said the idea came from a young girl who emailed her asking to lift library fees for kids and teens. She said that helped get the ballot rolling for the pilot program which eventually landed on the mayor’s desk.

cartoon mural at county library

Cartoon characters rejoice at the mayor’s announcement. (KSL TV)

“This was a huge non-partisan group effort,” Granato said. “The pilot program came in and documented the fact that this is something that would be a valuable resource.”

“Libraries now are so much more than books. It is now where you can learn, and grow, and develop new talents, and have access to resources and tools you might not have in your home,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson who included removing late fees for kids and teens as one of her budget priorities for the year, with the goal or creating more community access and support. 

Utah libraries standing against censorship and book-banning

“We know that fines and fees can create a barrier for access to libraries,” said Joey McNamee, Salt Lake County Libraries Interim Director. “People are nervous about coming back to the library if they have a fee.”

She said the change will also have an especially big impact on low-income families. 

“Our goal is to make the library welcoming and accessible to all. And so if you’re in a position, whether you’re a kid or even as an adult and you are having a hard time paying your fines, come talk to us and let’s see what we can figure out,” McNamee said.

Local mom of two Stacy Stosich says with no more late fees, it means she will be visiting county libraries more often.

“When you have children, it can be pretty stressful trying to find that one children’s book that is behind the bed or under the bed, or who knows where, what corner of your house,” she said.

“That’s exciting as a parent that I can return my books and if they can’t find their books, we have a little bit of a buffer to find that book.”

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Salt Lake County libraries remove late fees for kids and teens