Halifax public library eliminates fines for overdue books forever
Halifax is officially ending library fines, including wiping ones that were already in the system.
Halifax Public Libraries CEO Åsa Kachan announced the news on Wednesday morning, adding that 37,000 people who had their cards blocked due to fines can now freely use the library.
For Kachan, the decision to eliminate library fines was long-overdue.
Special Announcement https://t.co/h9Uq9ZGVPz— hfxpublib (@hfxpublib) August 5, 2020
"A library fine actually creates a barrier to access," she said. "Removing a barrier like a library fine gives everyone in our community the opportunity to have a lifelong relationship with their public library. From a card as a baby through to their retirement and into their later years."
She went on to say that there are many reasons someone might incur a library fine and that it is often vulnerable community members who are affected.
"The things that stand in the way of someone being able to return a book on time often are things like limited access to childcare, limited access to transportation, maybe employment opportunities that are sporadic, so a family that doesn't have a regular schedule."
recently, both academic AND public libraries here in halifax/ns have announced that they are eliminating fines on overdue items. this is a hugely important and vastly beneficial step for the people who depend on library facilities the most. [a thread, pt. 1]— emma!! (@emm_oliv) August 5, 2020
Besides freeing up time for employees to focus on community work, eliminating fines reduces contact for people who are worried about health risks during COVID-19, Kachan said.
Incredible news hearing Halifax libraries waiving past fines and fees.— Stephen Wentzell (@StephenWentzell) August 5, 2020
I filed an access request last fall that discovered between October 2018-Sept 2019 alone, Halifax Public Libraries had $246,646.99 in late fees.
A clean slate will make a difference for many. Great move.
While some might wonder what would stop people from simply not returning the book at all, Kachan said that there will be a replacement fee for lost or unreturned items.
"We operate on a basis of trust with our community," she said. "I believe that the more trust and the more respect we show our community, the more trust and the more respect we get back."
Earlier this summer, Edmonton and Calgary also eliminated fines for overdue books.
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