February 27, 2021

Canadian libraries are raising late fees to increase access to services

Amanda Chow has been borrowing books from her local public library in Richmond, BC, in Metro Vancouver for nearly four decades.

The 44-year-old Chow is occasionally charged late.

“Sometimes I forget to turn a book over,” he said.

When Cho finally paid her fine, they totaled $ 3. If that amount had reached $ 5, her account would have been disabled and she would not be able to borrow one or two books she reads each month.

Fortunately for Chow, who works as a technical spokesperson, the late fees were not enough for the financial burden to set her aside. But for many library hosts, they are.

Amanda Chow has been borrowing books from her local library in Metro Vancouver for almost 40 years, but she also struggles to bring books in on time. (Submitted by Amanda Chow)

That’s why last week Richmond Public Library a The number of public libraries across Canada is increasing Delayed fees are completely eliminated.

Over the past few years, hundreds of public libraries have concluded that late fees do more harm than good by pushing low-income and backward readers.

Over the past few years, nearly 300 libraries across Canada have recently eliminated late fees, many of them in Quebec. Recent changes include public libraries in Barnaby, BC, Lethbridge, Alda, Kingston, Ont., And Winnipeg.

“When we see families testing 40 books at a time, it only takes a day, and they hit that good door,” said Susan Walters, chief librarian at Richmond Public Library.

“People are busy, they lead busy lives, and it accumulates very quickly.”

Thousands were locked up

Of the Richmond Library’s 111,000 cardholders, more than 7,500 could not borrow books because they did not pay fines.

If the withholding material is not picked up, the library will still charge the hosts a fine. If they do not return the item within 21 days from its date, the cardholder will be charged a replacement fee.

But even then, sponsors are able to talk to an employee about discounting those costs if they can’t pay. According to Walters, most people eventually return the item.

Many libraries across Canada suspended late fees during epidemics because their services were low or inaccessible to some. (Ben Nelmes / CBC)

Vancouver Public Library currently does not charge late for children’s items. This week the Toronto Public Library teamed up with the City Council to come up with the same policy. Both libraries claim to be involved in an effort to eliminate late fees altogether.

Currently, the Ontario Library Association is urging the provincial government to provide more funding in the next budget.

1% of most budgets

Walters says late fees typically represent a percentage of the library’s budget. The Richmond Library found a way to divert $ 140,000 in late fees brought in from other parts of its budget. In Vancouver, the late fee is about 50,000 650,000.

Todd Kyle, president of the Canadian Library Association and CEO of the Brampton Library in Ontario, says late fees can be a significant source of income for libraries that have suffered financial damage during epidemics.

“The actual revenue we generate through our services is very low,” he said.

The Vancouver Public Library says it does not charge late fees for children’s books and is looking to eliminate late fees altogether. (Ben Nelmes / CBC)

Room rent, events, printing and photocopying have all been destroyed due to infection controls, and municipal funding for some libraries has been disabled or suspended, Kyle said.

But most libraries have somehow eliminated late fees during epidemics because services were not available or some hosts could not access them. The epidemic, coupled with the current widespread trend, has pushed many libraries to eliminate late fees as a permanent policy, he said.

“The Govt crisis has brought to our attention some sort of incredible ways, for some, there are barriers between them, participating in things like library service,” he said.

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