Effective January 1, 2022, the Perth & District Library is eliminating overdue fees on all children’s and teen materials, including books and DVDs.
“Overdue fees disproportionately impact the more vulnerable members of our community, who are unable to pay even a small fee. Removing overdue fees for children’s and teen materials removes a barrier to using the library to borrow books and increase their literacy skills”, said Erika Heesen, CEO/Chief Librarian.
The Perth & District Library joins 42 other libraries across Ontario in eliminating some or all of their overdue fees including the Ottawa, Kingston Frontenac, and Rideau Lakes Public Libraries. The library found that as of August 2021, 57% of library users with fines had stopped using their library card.
“We regularly have kids who aren’t allowed to check out books when their class comes to visit the library because their parents don’t want to have to worry about fines”, said Heidi Taber, Children’s Librarian.
In a review, the library also found that fines often go unpaid, with 50% of all fines written off, 18% waived, and 33% paid.
“It takes considerable staff time to manage library fines”, said Heesen. The library still plans to charge a fee for a book that is never returned. “This new model encourages everyone to bring back books to the library for the benefit of everyone in the community, with staff instead spending their time engaging with residents and helping them find books and access information”.
The Perth & District Library serves the Town of Perth and the Townships of Drummond/North Elmsley and Tay Valley. This large rural community is often affected by transportation issues.
“Anyone who can’t get to the library at a specific time or can’t afford to pay a fine just avoids using the library”, added Heesen. “To be truly accessible to all, allowing everyone to come in and use the library’s resources to improve their lives, we need to break down the barriers to access and remove the stereotype of the library as a punitive environment”.
For more information, call 613-267-1224.