Source: Bacon’s Rebellion
My thoughts on library fines are about the same as the writer’s: It doesn’t sound like a good idea to stop charging them, but I’m in favor of experimentation to see what works best.
More generally, I’m inclined to think of libraries as a legitimate public expense. They meet the definition of a public good in economics, being both non-excludable and non-rivalrous. That is to say, everyone may use the library, and each individual’s use of it causes no subtraction from any other individual’s use of it (generally speaking).
To the extent that fines cause overdue materials never to be returned, this introduces rivalry of access in a system that shouldn’t have it. Perhaps some other kind of penalty can be designed.