No more late fees! say public libraries

The Toronto Public Library has just joined a trend sweeping across Canada and the United States of eliminating late fines
Read on, fellow book lovers! (ID 54384855 © MrFly | Dreamstime.com)


We all know the feeling.

You're cleaning out your bedroom (finally, oops!) and right there, under a pile of sketched doodles and sweatshirts is ... a library book.

"Yikes! Didn't I return all those books?" you think, scrambling to remember when you borrowed the book in the first place. "Guess it's time to pay some late fees."

But according to a new announcement, if you live in Toronto, the answer to that situation is, Not anymore you don't!

Same if you live in Kamloops, most of Vancouver, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, all of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Welcome to the end of late fees in public libraries. More and more libraries are moving to eliminate the fines for overdue books as research show that they really aren't very effective in the first place.

Why end the fees?

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Many libraries began trying out 'no late fees' at the start of the pandemic. (Getty Embed)

Many libraries began to suspend their late fees at the start of the pandemic. After all, if people were supposed to avoid leaving their homes as much as possible, it didn't make much sense to have them sweat over some overdue books.

But even as the pandemic restrictions eased off, the fees weren't reintroduced. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, they don't actually bring in much revenue—or profit—anymore for the libraries. In addition, more and more library users are using digital resources, where the 'return' of the material is handled automatically. But there's a bigger reason for eliminating the fees.

Access open to all

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The Toronto Public Library has dozens of branches—like this one in Scarborough City Centre—that together serve hundreds of thousands of customers daily. (Getty Embed)

For many people, even a small amount of library fees can be difficult to pay off. In the past, a small amount of overdue fees meant that the library card would be suspended, or could not be used to borrow more books.

In this situation, the library's resource were being cut off to the people who needed them the most. This is why the decision is being made more and more to end the fines completely. Without needing to worry about late fees, more people can enjoy and take advantage of the library!

You're still responsible

To be clear, the end of late fees doesn't mean that you can just walk away with the book.

Patrons of the Toronto Public Library and other libraries across Canada will still receive regular reminders about their overdue books. And if they overshoot the due date by a certain amount of time (often about three weeks), they will be charged with a replacement fee for the book they borrowed.

But overall, libraries aren't concerned. They say that most people return the books eventually and that ending the fines (including any outstanding ones currently on people's account) is the right thing to do.

Sounds like great news for a spring and summer full of awesome reading!


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