The 21st Show

Some Libraries Are Changing Their Late Fee Policies, Recognizing Fines As A ‘Form Of Social Inequity’

books on a shelf

books on a shelf Wikimedia Commons

Public libraries have long relied on late fees as a way of encouraging patrons to return their books before they’re due. But, a growing number of libraries across the country are changing that, they say the policy disproportionately affects people from disadvantaged communities. Back in January, the American Library Association passed a resolution, recognizing fines as a quote “form of social inequity.”

The organization has called on libraries nationwide to find a way to eliminate the practice. Since then, libraries from San Diego to Boston, and even here in Illinois, have made changes to their policies. In October, the Chicago Public Library system, one of the largest in the nation, announced that it would be eliminating late fees and removing outstanding debt for library patrons. Andrea Telli, Chicago’s library commissioner and Jeanne Hamilton, the library director for the Bloomington Public Library joined us

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