The Gibsons and District Public Library is closing the book on overdue fines for good.
As of May 15, the library is no longer charging overdue fines – though anyone who doesn’t return items after a certain point will be asked to pay to replace them.
Library director Heather Evans-Cullen told Coast Reporter this is part of a growing trend among public libraries, including the Burnaby Public Library, North Vancouver District Public Library and Richmond Public Library.
“The notion of controlling patron behaviour through punitive consequences is antiquated and accessibility is the main objective of libraries,” Evans-Cullen said in an email.
Although daily late fines are intended to make sure library loans are returned, the unintentional consequence creates a barrier to accessing their services, which “disproportionately impact families with young children, low-income households, and those in our community who need us the most,” a release from the library said.
Other libraries that have gotten rid of overdue fines report their items were returned at similar rates or at increased rates.
The Gibsons Public Library doesn’t anticipate the new policy to impact wait times for items on hold.
While the library is doing away with late fees, if an item is more than 21 days overdue and not returned, or is lost or damaged, the borrower will be charged for the replacement and processing.
If an item is returned in good condition within six weeks after the deadline has passed, only the processing charge will be applied.
Meanwhile, the library will still charge $2 for inter-library loan holds that are not picked up by deadline.
Notifications will continue to be sent as a reminder to return library materials on time.
Those who would like to support the library can still donate.