ICYMI: Boston Public Library Permanently Eliminates Late Fines

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The Boston Public Library system is joining a growing list of a libraries across the country to permanently eliminate all library fines.

Boston Public Library card

Maybe you wouldn't think that late fines generate a lot of money -- but you'd be wrong. In FY19, BPL collected $176,512 in overdue fines from cardholders, which only represented a fraction of the total overdue fine balance on record, according to a press release.

Currently, about 42,000 BPL cardholders are facing fines, and thus cannot continue their use of the library system. BPL states that a large portion of the Boston residents facing fines live in neighborhoods which are the most economically challenged parts of the city. There are approximately 391,300 card holders.

With the approval from the BPL Board of Trustees at their May 18 meeting, all fines will be removed from accounts on July 1, 2021.

Previously BPL issued a moratorium on issues fines due to the pandemic in March 2020. BPL had already eliminated late fines for patrons younger than 18 in October 2019.

Patrons are still required to return any overdue books in order to check out additional materials. Also, while card holders will no longer incur fines for late returns, they will still be responsible for replacement costs if a book is lost or not returned.

“The BPL is proud to join the growing number of public libraries who are abolishing late fines and ensuring maximum accessibility, especially at this time of greatest need among those who rely on our resources most,” said BPL president David Leonard. “With this announcement, patrons can continue to access our collections, as well as our physical and digital resources, without the financial barrier of late fines. We have always believed that as a public library, our services should be ‘Free to All,’ and as the current global health crisis continues and we move into recovery, policy changes such as this are more important than ever.”