New York Libraries Eliminate Fines for Overdue Books, Clear Accrued Debts

New York Libraries Eliminate Fines for Overdue Books, Clear Accrued Debts

     In an effort to welcome New Yorkers back to their city’s libraries, the city’s libraries not only will no longer charge fines for overdue books, but all the past late fines from patrons’ accounts will be cleared, as well: allowing residents to start with clean slates, the New York Public Library (NYPL) announced today.

     Although New York’s library system is the largest in the country to eliminate overdue fines, the libraries in San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami-Dade, Seattle, and Dallas have done so, as well.

     “Removing this antiquated barrier to access allows libraries to better fulfill their mission: making knowledge and opportunity free and accessible to all,” the NYPL said in a statement.

     The Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library systems have also adopted the surprising policy changes in which New Yorkers will no longer be charged fees for returning books late and past fees will be forgiven.

     After books are overdue for a month, however, they will be considered lost, and residents will still be required to pay replacement fees.

     The NYPL did not comment on whether it worries that without fines, library patrons will be more careless about returning the books they borrow.

     While in the past, the city’s public libraries blocked the library cards of New Yorkers who accrued $15 or more in late fines library cards were blocked if they accrued $15 or more in fines, now residents’ cards will only be blocked from borrowing additional physical materials when patrons accumulate replacement fees: the amounts of which vary by each of the city’s library systems.

     Residents who have blocks on their library cards, however, will still be able to access computers, e-books, and other digital services.

     “This announcement is another major step towards making our public libraries, the heart of so many communities, accessible to all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

     To welcome new guests to local libraries and to celebrate the NYPL’s new fine-free era, the three public library systems will hold a week of giveaways and special programs at all branch locations beginning on Oct. 18.

     This week, the NYPL encourages New Yorkers to stop by their local library branches, check out books and materials, and return any old books and material they might have at home: without the fear of fines.

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