Tardy library patrons in Lake of Bays rejoice.
It’s a trend that’s being seen more and more across North America and now libraries in the Township of Lake of Bays will be following suit – no more late charges for books not returned on time.
Lake of Bays Councillor Mike Peppard, who sits on the library board, delivered the news to his fellow councillors at their October 12 meeting.
“I’d like to highlight the fact that the library board has voted unanimously to abolish late fees for books,” said Peppard during his councillor report. “This is happening all over the province. It’s been often identified as just one more barrier to people coming to the library.”
Lake of Bays Mayor Terry Glover noted that it’s also happening in the U.S. “I guess this is happening all over. It’s an agreed new way to deal with things… so that’s really great news,” he said.
According to information released by the Dwight Public Library, on September 27 the library board agreed to establish a fine-free initiative. “This means there will be no late fee for our members,” it states.
According to the library, evidence from libraries across North America has shown that removing the late fees increased the number of materials being borrowed, encouraged former patrons to return to the library, and created a more positive customer experience.
It also states that despite no late fees, borrowed items are still returned. That’s because if an item is 60 days overdue, the patron is charged for its replacement but if the item is returned in good condition the charge will be removed.
“We encourage people to return items by their due date to facilitate sharing with other members of the community,” said the library in its report. It also adds that since 2019 more than 500 libraries have eliminated their late fees.
In Huntsville, the possibility has been brought up at the board level but that’s as far as it has gone, explained CEO and chief librarian for Huntsville Public Library, David Tremblay.
He said it has been shown that fines end up affecting children the most because the return of books is usually not dependent on them and they do not have the means to pay the fines.
Huntsville Public Library on average generates about $15,000 annually in late fees, which is comparable to other libraries its size.
“The main funders of libraries generally are municipalities so as you can imagine if we remove that line item from our revenue stream… we’d have to make it up somewhere,” he explained. Tremblay said some libraries have also removed the fee and placed a donation jar on the counter as a pay-it-forward gesture. “Some people end up paying quite a bit but there’s no guarantee,” he said.
While the issue may come up once more, for now, library-goers in Huntsville will remain on the hook for late fees.
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