Your Denver Public Library fines don’t go to the library

Denver Public Library fines go to Denver’s general fund, which pays for a range of basic city services.

Michael Brodsky carries a ladder through the Denver Public Library (Andrew Kenney/Denverite) Denver Day Works
Michael Brodsky carries a ladder through the Denver Public Library (Andrew Kenney/Denverite) Denver Day Works
Michael Brodsky carries a ladder through the Denver Public Library (Andrew Kenney/Denverite) Denver Day Works

Have you ever pondered where your money goes when you receive a fine from the Denver Public Library for an overdue book? 

The bad news is that the money doesn’t go directly towards the library. The money actually goes to Denver’s general fund. It is Denver’s fiscal policy that all unrestricted revenues — sales taxes, fees and fines — go to the general fund, which pays for basic city services.

Money for the library does come out of the general fund. The Denver Public Library’s 2017 appropriation was $44.6 million. But money from fines doesn’t give any kind of specific boost to the library’s coffers.

How much are we paying in fines?

In 2016, the library collected $226,144 in fines on overdue books, and in the first six months of 2017, the library collected $77,982.

The library currently charges 20 cents per day per overdue item. The highest fine you can get from the Denver Public Library is $3 per item per checkout period.

The good news is that the Denver Public Library does not charge overdue fines on books for children and young adults. It may be something that other libraries in the state pick up, too.

The Colorado State Library recently recommended public libraries completely eliminate fines and fees on children’s items. This recommendation is based off a study conducted by the group Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries. The study found that library fines discourage low-income parents from using public libraries.

The Colorado State Library said there is not a clear benefit for the value and impact of library fines.