Have you ever enjoyed a book so much that you couldn’t put it down, and—uh oh—you even forget to bring it back to the library to return it on time? It happens to us too and it’s such a bummer when we’re fined a late fee! Late fees hurt, but there’s a reason why libraries started fining people in the first place: to get books back so that others can borrow them. When you don’t return a book on time, you’re keeping someone else from reading it. Makes sense, right? But what happens when late fees do the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do in the first place? What if late fees make books more inaccessible?
Recently, libraries have started to adopt a no-late fee policy. Why? When late fees pile up, borrowers are often blocked from using library resources and borrowing more books. Libraries started to notice that people with limited means and access to resources were the ones most affected by late fees. That made no sense to them at all; after all, public libraries are meant to increase access to resources, not decrease them. As a result, many libraries around the United States have decided to eliminate late fees. But what about the money that libraries earn from these fees? To these libraries, access is more important than the money earned through late fees. You go, libraries!
What do you love most about your local library?