Toronto Public Library eliminates late fees for children
A sign at a Toronto Public Library branch is seen in this undated file image. (CTV News Toronto)
Published Tuesday, March 2, 2021 11:35AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, March 2, 2021 4:14PM EST
The Toronto Public Library will eliminate late fees for children as part of a wider effort to “remove barriers to library access,” especially for those in lower income neighbourhoods.
Mayor John Tory announced the change during a news conference held on Tuesday morning.
The Toronto Public Library says that library users will still be responsible for paying the replacement cost for any materials lost, damaged or not returned.
The Toronto Public Library will also continue to send out notifications about overdue books.
“Today’s announcement is a good example of the steps we are taking to make our city more equitable and to ensure that our services are accessible to everyone,” Tory said in a press release. “By eliminating children’s overdue fines, we are removing barriers that were once impeding access to a wide variety of services and support offered at our city’s libraries.”
The Toronto Public Library says that five per cent of children from racialized and low-income communities currently have their library cards blocked because of overdue fines compared to one per cent of children from other areas.
The cost of waiving the late fees belonging to about 33,000 children’s accounts is pegged at approximately $600,000 in 2021 but the Toronto Public Library was able to cover approximately half that cost through fundraising.
It has said that it hopes to eliminate late fees for adults in 2022.
“Libraries remove barriers and open doors and there is growing evidence that overdue fines don’t actually encourage people to return library materials. In fact, all it does is create a barrier to service,” Toronto’s head librarian Vickery Bowles told CP24 during an interview on Tuesday afternoon. “When fines are eliminated people who haven’t been coming to library start coming to the library again and materials that have been long overdue ate returned again. So it is really a win-win for everyone.”
Bowles said that by waving overdue fines, children whose accounts have been blocked due to non-payment can return to using library services. She said that is “a step in the right direction in terms of serving children across the city.”
“That is not just borrowing books, that is coming to story time, using our computers, getting help from librarians when they are doing their homework,” she said.