More books are checked out of the Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert than any other library in Maricopa County Library District- and with that comes more library fines as well. The Gilbert library collects on average about $90,000 to $100,000 in fines annually, though that total varies.
But in the last year, the library made up 33 percent of the fines charged to the 15 Maricopa County libraries, which totalled $429,000.
A library in Surprise comes in second, making up a total of 17 percent of the total fines.
The total includes late fees as well as fines for lost or damaged books. Fees for books that are found are refunded.
But the Southeast Regional Library always tends to collect more fines because it's the busiest, said Audrey Brownell, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Library District.
Brownell said the fines don't make a big difference in the overall $20 million operating budget. And, the libraries have instituted a new e-mail reminder option on the county library Web site at www.mcldaz.org/default.aspx to help readers avoid the fines.
"It's the friendly thing to do," Brownell said. "To remind people their books are coming up."
The county libraries charge 20 cents for late books, magazines and CDs, $2 a day for DVDs and videos and books requested from other libraries. DVDs can be checked out for seven days. And books can be renewed online.
The Southeast Regional Library also recently opened a drive-through book return. The library has also in recent years saved money by installing self-checkout machines and the Smartcheck automatic book return system that reads RFID codes on books and allows the library to need two fewer staff members than they might otherwise have had to hire, Brownell said.
The county's Web site also offers a variety of services, and now also provides downloaded books.