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Public libraries in Boise, Nampa to ditch late fees

Boise and Nampa will follow in the footsteps of other Treasure Valley libraries by doing away with fines for overdue books.

BOISE, Idaho — Public libraries in Boise and Nampa will do away with late fees starting on October 1.

By doing away with fines for overdue books, officials believe more people will use the library.

"We think it will attract more users and prevent some of the access barriers that people have if they can't afford to pay a fine," said Boise Public Library Director Kevin Booe.

Late fees only generate a small percentage of a library's total revenue. Boise Public Library's total annual budget is $12.9 million, but late fees only account for a little over $100,000 - a price Booe said the library is willing to pay.

"It's just good customer service," he said. "It invites more people into the library that might be afraid to use it."

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Boise and Nampa aren't the first Treasure Valley cities to go fine-free at their libraries. Eagle, Caldwell, and Meridian have already done with late fees.

"They've seen usage go up, they've seen donations go up, and actually most of the libraries here that have adopted 'fine free' have seen books returned in a more timely fashion," Booe said.

The Meridian Library District has the numbers to prove it.

"We've seen a 7% increase in our library card holders, a 7% increase in our overall circulation of library materials, and we've had a 6% increase in our door count," said Meridian Library Director Gretchen Casoritti.

Boise is looking to replicate Meridian's success, by doing exactly what they've done in the past.

"Back in the 1970s and into the early '80s, Boise didn't charge fines for overdue books," Booe said. "We're now going back to that and it makes it much more user friendly."

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