Returning a book to the library a few days late? Soon enough you won’t have to worry about having to pay a hefty fine, as the library board has unanimously voted to go fine-free in 2022.
Said Rebecca Lazarenko, the interim chief librarian, at Wednesday evening’s board meeting, “All of the libraries in our consortium will be going fine-free in 2022 so we of course would like to go in line with our consortium and also provide this service to our community.”
Thorold Public Library wouldn’t be the first library to go fine-free in Canada.
“This has been happening at other libraries in Ontario and across Canada. Around 300+ now are fine free. What they’re actually finding is that people are more likely to bring items back because they’re not concerned about judgment or how much is this going to be. They’re not finding that there is a decrease in items being returned.”
In going fine-free the library hopes to be more accessible to people in difficult economic circumstances.
“A lot of this is based on research as well that it’s a large barrier to access. Some families wouldn’t even get a library card because they can’t afford a potential risk of not being able to pay for items that are overdue. So it’s also kind of a social barrier.”
Lazarenko says that being a fine-free library is part of the changing nature of libraries.
“A lot of the argument of removing these sort of barriers is that you’re changing that relationship. It is a free place, you can come and go as you please. There’s not these kind of punishments for a day or two late. I think that’s part of the shifting face of libraries and we’re responding to needs in the community, especially the low income community.”
The board’s decision to go fine-free will come into effect in April 2022.