The Smithers Public Library will mark Family Literacy Week (January 20th – 27th) with special activities for children and families, as well as a welcome announcement for all: Effective immediately, the library has gone completely fine-free.
Bolstered by the idea that encouraging community members to use the services and materials available at their public library is more important than the small portion of annual revenue generated by overdue fees, the library board voted to abolish charges on all items returned after their due date. In an effort to champion accessibility, the library has removed a potential financial and psychological barrier to borrowing materials.
Smithers Public Library consulted other fine-free public libraries in B.C. before reaching the decision to stop charging fines.
None of these libraries reported an increase in overdue materials, but some experienced more long overdue items being returned, since patrons no longer feared being faced with a substantial late fee. A few fine-free libraries observed increased usage among certain patron groups, such as teens. Some of these libraries reported that they receive nearly half of their previous fine revenue through spontaneous donations by patrons returning overdue items. Voluntary donations from our patrons and community members are always welcome.
Public libraries operate on a unique system of trust and mutual respect, both for each other and the valuable materials and resources we provide and lend to the community. The new, fine-free policy applies to all of the physical materials we lend out, including books, DVDs, audiobooks, music CDs, technology kits, literacy kits, and magazines. While patrons will no longer be charged overdue fines, please remember to return all library items on time because other community members may be waiting for them.
Please note, the library will still charge the cost of a replacement copy for items that are lost or damaged beyond repair. Items borrowed at other libraries may still incur overdue fines, as per that library’s policy.
If you haven’t visited the library recently, please drop by and browse all the resources and services we have to offer. Some of them may surprise you!
For up-to-date information about our services and programs, visit the Smithers Public Library website smithers.bc.libraries.coop.
–Submitted story from Smithers Public Library.