August 29, 2018
Contact: Liz Xiong


SAINT PAUL, MN – Today, at the 2019 Library Budget Address, Mayor Melvin Carter proposed investing $215,000 to eliminate the Library’s reliance on daily late fines, and announced the forthcoming expansion of “Read Brave Saint Paul” program, featuring books centered on housing challenges.

Eliminating Late Fines

Mayor Carter’s library budget eliminates late fines on library materials with an ongoing $215,000 investment to stabilize technology and collections funding. Backed by staff-led research showing late fines pose a significant barrier to library use for many, the Mayor’s proposal rids dependence on daily late fine revenue and re-grants access to more than 50,000 library patrons, who are currently unable to check out materials because they have incurred too many late fines.

“Moving away from late fines will make our libraries more accessible and welcoming for all of our residents,” said Mayor Carter. “I look forward to welcoming back all of our library users who have been blocked because they couldn’t afford to pay a fine.”

The average patron debt is $33. While many library patrons incur late fines, the ability to pay them depends greatly on income. Users who can pay their fines are able to continue using the library, whereas those left with unpaid balances are eventually blocked when they get too high.

“Late fines are, in many ways, opposite to our values as a public library system. We want our community to associate libraries with friendly staff, welcoming service, and useful information – not with guilt and shame over late fines,” said Library Director Catherine Penkert “We’re excited by Mayor Carter’s proposal and its potential to make libraries radically more open to our entire community.”

The proposal to eliminate late fines at SPPL follows a national trend. Libraries across the country are going fine-free, including Salt Lake City Public Library, Nashville Public Library, Eau Claire Public Library, and more.

For more information on eliminating Library late fines, visit

Expanding Read Brave Saint Paul Program

Mayor Carter announced the expansion of Read Brave Saint Paul, which is going citywide in October. The Mayor's library budget builds on the legacy of the successful reading program with book-based discussions of relevant and critical issues. With $10,000 allocated from the proposed 2019 collections investment, the expanded program will fund an intergenerational selection of books to foster conversations about housing challenges. Affordable housing is a critical topic in Saint Paul and was the centerpiece of Mayor Carter’s proposed 2019 Budget.  

“Thousands of people in our community face serious housing challenges,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “Adding on to the success of Read Brave and lifting housing as our theme will help us develop common understanding about our housing crisis and its impacts on our collective future.”

To learn more about the Saint Paul Public Library’s Past Read Brave program, CLICK HERE.

The Saint Paul City Council will vote on Mayor Carter’s library budget plans as part of the full City budget proposal in December.


Last Edited: August 29, 2018