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Library users can say goodbye to overdue fees on books and print materials checked out from the children and teen sections at Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Libraries, city officials announced.

The new library rule took effect this month and applies to everyone no matter their age, according to a news release from the city.

“Every child or teen should have access to library materials without late charges,” Deputy Director and City Librarian Jenni Fontanilla said in the release. “This small change will make a big difference and allow children, youth, and families to enjoy the boundaries of reading and learning, without the concern of ultimately paying fines.”

The policy, approved by the Stockton City Council and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, will additionally apply to the Bookmobile, a traveling library that carries books for all ages.

According to the city, in 2019 the American Library Association passed a resolution that cited evidence claiming that eliminating fines would increase library card signups as well as library use.

The resolution also recognized that charging fines was a form of social inequity and called for libraries to remove the fees.

“Going fine free will allow more people to enjoy our materials for education, enrichment, and inspiration,” Fontanilla said.

Charges for lost or damaged library items will still apply, according to Fontanilla.

More library information can be found online.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.