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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Are L.A. libraries trying to give away books by getting rid of late fees?

Los Angeles Central Library
The Los Angeles Central Library in downtown L.A.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Los Angeles Public Library system has announced that it will no longer collect fines for overdue books. This is supposed to be part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s effort to expand access to library materials.

Wait a minute. Some users say they are too busy to get to the library on time to return a book. There are bins outside the libraries in which one can deposit a book 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One can renew library books by phone.

The fine for an overdue book, 35 cents per day, is not excessive. How much does watching a movie cost? One cup of coffee from a high-end store can cost more than two weeks’ worth of library fines.

If the absence of these very minimal fines causes library patrons to delay returning books, then other patrons who want to borrow those books will have to wait that much longer. This policy change may reduce library access, not increase it.

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Robert Schechter, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Books are borrowed from the library. They are meant to be shared.

Library cards are free with the understanding that patrons will be responsible in their use and care of the material they borrow. To use the excuse that it is inconvenient to return library material is the same as saying, “I don’t care for public property.” There are plenty of branches all around the city.

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Greater access is wonderful, but it should go hand-in-hand with responsibility. Library patrons should see borrowing a book and other materials as a privilege.

Frances Goldstein, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, our political leaders keep surprising us.

What will stop people from never returning books and other materials to the library now that there will no longer be late fees? Answer: nothing.

Is the next step doing away with fines for running red lights and stop signs?

Mariana Bension, Los Angeles


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