NYC’s public library systems eliminate overdue book fines – New York Daily News

New York City is closing the book on overdue library fines and starting a new chapter that ensures open access to a world of adventure and knowledge, city officials said Monday.
The New York Public Library’s version of the FBI’s Most Wanted List is now a thing of the past, replaced by a borrowing system designed to remove barriers from branches with higher card suspension rates.
Gone, too, are fines at the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library, all of which makes the Big Apple the largest city to turn the page on overdue book fines. The New York Public Library covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island.
“This announcement is another major step towards making our public libraries, the heart of so many communities, accessible to all,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Eliminating fines will let us serve even more New Yorkers, allowing them to enjoy all of the resources and programs that public libraries offer to grow and succeed.”
Under the previous late fines model, patrons would have their cards blocked if they accrued more than $15 in fines. About 400,000 New Yorkers would fit into that category under the old model, more than half in high-need communities.
The new policy, which goes into effect Oct. 5, also wipes clean any fines already on the books, although librarians stress that they’d still like borrowed books returned, no questions asked.
“For far too long, late fines have generated fear and anxiety among those who can least afford to pay, preventing them from opening library accounts, checking out books, or even coming through our door,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott.
“I vividly remember as a child having late fines on my card and hesitating about going to the library when I needed it.”
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx couldn’t resist a Charles Dickens reference while discussing the new approach.
“During the pandemic, it was clearer than ever that we live in a ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ with our most vulnerable citizens too often left behind,” said Marx, who called fines “antiquated and “ineffective.”
“For those who can afford the fines, they are barely an incentive,” Marx said. “For those who can’t afford the fines — disproportionately low-income New Yorkers — they become a real barrier to access that we can no longer accept.”
The new policy does have a little fine print: New Yorkers will still need to pay replacement fees if they lose material. Materials are considered lost after being overdue for about one month. If materials are returned, however, no fees will apply.
Cards with outstanding replacement fees may still be blocked. But even those patrons will still have access to computers, e-books, and other digital services.
The Urban Libraries Council estimates that more than 270 libraries in North America have gone at least partially fine-free.
Other fine-free cities include San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami-Dade, Seattle and Dallas.