The Boston Public Library says it plans to permanently eliminate future late fees and forgive already logged overdue fines for all patrons.
The plan will still need approval from the library's Board of Trustees and would be made possible through a line item is Acting Mayor Kim Janey's budget proposal.
Director of Library Services Michael Colford says the move makes sense from both communityand equity perspective.
"The overdue fines were originally created as an incentive for people to return materials in a timely manner and that has proven to be largely untrue because instead, it just creates shame in people who are unable to pay their fines and creates a percieved scolding relationship between the frontline staff and and visitors," said Colford. "Instead of paying the fine, you just decide not to come especially if you're a younger person ... it's a serious equity issue and the elimination of fines gives all people the same access to library materials. You know, people of low incomes have a great deal of difficulty paying a fine and they're often the ones who most need to use the library and have access to the materials for free."
The BPL would still require all checked out materials to be returned before new materials could also be checked out. Patrons will also still be required to replace materials they lose, but Colford says the BPL has flexible policies regarding this. For example, a used book could be submitted as a replacement for the lost item.
Click the audio player above to listen to the full interview.