Good news for readers in New York! In an effort to eliminate inequity, the New York Public Library system will no longer charge patrons late fees. Those already in the library system with late charges on their cards have had all fees and fines cleared.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial inequalities have been revealed in many areas. For the library, these differences are seen in the level of accessibility. If people are concerned that they can’t afford any possible fees, then they will avoid the library altogether.
“For those who can’t afford the fines,” said New York Public Library President Anthony Marx. “They become a real barrier to access that we cannot accept. This is a step towards a more equitable society.”
The hope for this change is that it encourages people to use the library and all the resources it provides. In addition to the removal of fees, patrons won’t pay for any lost materials. Everyone should have access to the knowledge attained through books no matter their financial situation.
New York isn’t alone in their decision either. Earlier this year, the Boston Public Library system and the Burbank Public Library system moved to overturn late fees for many of the same reasons. In 2019, the San Diego Public Library and Chicago Public Library ditched charges as well. The change is Chicago has ultimately been successful. According to a report by NPR, the library system had spent $1 million to collect only $675,000 in fees every year. This just goes to show how beneficial it is to be financially accessible. The benefits reach beyond the patrons.
Hopefully, more libraries will follow suit, making books and reading more widely attainable.