We are excited to announce that Brockville Public Library is going permanently fine-free.
We believe that every member of our community should be able to use the Library freely and fully, regardless of their financial situation and without fear of incurring overdue fines. This means that if you return library materials after the due date, you will no longer need to worry about paying late fees. We will, however, continue to charge replacement fees for lost and damaged items.
Why did the Library choose to go fine-free?
We have found that late fees create barriers to library access for many members of our community, especially low-income people and those with young children. We have always strived to create a welcoming and inclusive space that meets the needs of everyone in our community, and restricting access with overdue fines ultimately does not reflect those values.
“Late fees represent a particularly punitive approach to library service that doesn’t reflect the library values of today,” says Geraldine Slark, Library CEO. “From first hand experience, we know that there can be a lot of shame and guilt surroudning returning materials late. We don’t want anyone to feel shame when they walk through our doors, and we don’t want anyone to stop using the Library because they can’t pay their fines.”
What does this mean for me?
Overdue fines will no longer be applied to your account, but you are still responsible for returning everything that you borrow. Please do your best to return or renew your items on time, as someone else may be waiting for them.
Will outstanding overdue fines be waived?
Yes! Library staff are already at work clearing fines from user accounts. This only applies to overdue fines; fees for lost or damaged items still apply.
How will this affect the Library’s budget?
Late fees have never represented a significant source of funding for the Library. Thanks to the popularity of digital materials like eBooks and audiobooks that do not generate late fees, this figure has been trending even further downards in recent years. Collecting late fees also takes dedicated staffing resources, making them actually represent a net loss when measured against the cost to staff time. Ultimately, we consider the risk of adding barriers to access – and thus losing library patrons – a greater risk than losing this small source of revenue.
How will the Library encourage people to return items on time?
Most items are returned by their due dates! Brockville Public Library went temporarily fine-free in early 2020 as a pilot project that has been in place up until the recent decision to make the change permanent. Since implementing this policy, we have not noticed a significant increase in books returned long after their due date. The majority of library users continue to return library books by their due date, and the freedom to return overdue books without fear of financial penalty has actually encouraged the return of many long-overdue books that the Library may never have seen again otherwise.
The Library will continue to send notices letting people know when their items are due back. We will also continue to bill users for items that are never returned and need to be replaced.
I thought of fines as a donation to the Library. Can I still donate?
Yes! The Library gratefully accepts donations and issues tax receipts for donations of $10 and more. If you would like to pay it forward, you can make a donation to the Library in person or online.
Have a question that isn’t answered here?
Contact us! You can reach us by phone at 613-342-3936 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.