Library Removes DVD Rental Fees

Beginning on July 1, 2019 Arlington’s libraries are making it easier to use library materials by removing the DVD rental fee on feature films, foreign films, and TV shows across all age categories.  

The same research that supported the libraries’ move to eliminate fines in February, 2019 supported the decision to eliminate DVD fees as well.  Research demonstrates that: 

  • Eliminating fines and fees helps close the opportunity gap.
  • Families and individuals with limited or fixed income depend upon the materials that libraries offer. 
  • Fees hinder library use.
  • Fees do not apply to digital films available via OverDrive and Kanopy, which creates inequality between those who borrow digital materials and those who borrow physical materials. Digital borrowing has increased since becoming available and continues to increase.
  • When fines and fees disappear, library use goes up. 

Robbins and Fox libraries began charging $1.00 for DVD rentals in 2003 when the Friends of the Robbins Library provided seed money for enhanced VHS and DVD collections at both libraries. For many years DVD rental fees supported the budget for the DVD collection. Since the libraries went fine free in February, library staff have looked for additional ways to remove barriers to library access. Fees on DVDs became the next obvious place.  

Library staff collaborated with the Friends of Robbins Library board to bring about this change. The Friends were eager to support the libraries’ goal of removing fines and fees and have said yes to other initiatives to make the library more accessible. In July of 2018 the Friends of the Robbins Library began subsidizing public printing.  The move to eliminate DVD rental fees is another step that the Friends group is taking in partnership with library administration to remove barriers to library access in Arlington.  

“I’m grateful to the Friends of the Robbins Library for supporting our video collection goals in the first place and for being so receptive to this significant change,” says library director Andrea Nicolay. “The Friends were quick to embrace this opportunity.”  Ruth Hersch, Friends of the Robbins Library president adds, “Deciding to end DVD rentals at the library is part of a larger deliberate and intentional effort to remove barriers to library access and informational resources.It is exciting to be part of those efforts!”

The Friends of Robbins Library are developing new ways to continue fundraising in support of  the library. “We’ve seen that the community is eager to donate to the Friends of the Robbins Library in appreciation of support for public printing, and we expect even more goodwill towards the Friends as a result of this move,” says Nicolay.  

The Arlington Libraries Foundation, the Friends of the Fox Library, the Little Fox Shop and  the Friends of the Robbins Library provide direct funding for collections, spaces, and programs at Arlington’s libraries.

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