February 17, 2018

At LAPL, Proposed $1 Fee for Holds Is Dead

By Norman Oder

  • Fee was discontinued in 1994
  • More than 900 emails in protest
  • Library director “overwhelmed” by citizen concern

[Updated April 25] The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) proposed reinstating a $1 charge to reserve or place a hold on books, but citizen resistance has killed the plan. While the Library Commission on March 20 approved a new Fines and Fees Schedule, to go into effect July 1, it approved a revised schedule on April 25, without the fee, but with an increase in fines. Activists and preservationists Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, who regularly use LAPL resources for historic research, created the saveLAPL web site and generated nearly 900 email messages asking the library not to impose the holds fee. (The web site also encouraged readers to contribute to LAPL, given the library’s effort to help with the city’s $400 million shortfall.)

The campaign worked. “I am overwhelmed by the passion and concerns for the value of library services in our city expressed by hundreds of people in the e-mails,” wrote City Librarian Fontayne Holmes. “Had we anticipated this kind of a response, we would not have made the recommendation for the fee in the first place. We really thought that we were reinstituting a library holds fee that we previously had for decades in the library system, a fee that was fifty cents when it was discontinued in 1994.” (Of the 31 library systems LAPL surveyed in southern California, 12 currently charge 50 cents to $1 for a hold.)

“As a result, I am submitting a report to the Board of Library Commissioners, asking them to revise the Library Fines and Fees Schedule to rescind the $1.00 ‘holds’ and to increase the overdue book fine from 25 cents to 30 cents,” Holmes wrote. “The increase in the overdue fines should produce revenue equal or better than the revenue from the ‘holds’ fee. Cooper and Schave commented, “You have been heard! Keep watching this site for more news of threats to the Library as the City budget is worked out, and ways you can speak up about how important a well funded Library is to the people of Los Angeles.”

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