On September 30, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public Library would join the growing ranks of public library systems around the country officially eliminating their overdue library fine policies. This bold initiative to reconnect hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans to the resources of their public library will go into effect as of October 1.
To date, Chicago Public Library is the largest library system in the country to go fine-free. This move to restore thousands of Chicagoans’ access to information and resources aligns with Mayor Lightfoot’s initiatives to broaden information access and equity to all Chicagoans. Indeed, at a recent event, she hailed our Library as “Ground Zero for what’s good about Chicago.”
At the time this landmark decision was made, approximately 340,000 Chicago Public Library cardholders with fines over $10 were unable to check out materials, including books, e-books, and circulating resources like mobile Internet hotspots and ScienceConnections Discovery Packs. This new policy invites thousands of patrons back to the Library.
A recent report published by the San Francisco Financial Justice Project examined whether or not San Francisco Public Library should abolish its library fine policy. The report found that eliminating fines increases patrons’ access to materials and services, reduces the inequitable impact of fines across class lines, and increases library staff efficiency. In short—it works! In September 2019, San Francisco Public Library announced it, too, would go fine-free.
How does it work?
The new policy will remove all fines from patron accounts related to overdue or late materials. The fine-free policy will also apply to patrons with lost material fines under $30. Materials not returned within 7 days after the due date will incur a replacement fee; however, the replacement fees for lost material will automatically be removed from a user’s account as soon as they return the item to the library.
“The City of Chicago is taking a step in the right direction to help our library system once again serve as a gathering place for the entire community, regardless of your financial status,” said Mayor Lightfoot in her announcement.
Increasing the impact of your investment!
Removing economic barriers to the Library means that thousands of patrons can now access the high-impact, sought-after programs donors to the Library Foundation make possible, such as our digital literacy tutors; One Book, One Chicago; early learning programs, and so much more.
“The Library is a great equalizer. You don’t have to belong in any socioeconomic group. You don’t have to be in any particular profession. You don’t have to be at any educational level to use the Library. Everyone is welcome here to learn, expand their horizon, and open up opportunities,” shared Commissioner Telli.
Check out this link, for questions about the fine-free policy. Thank you for powering your Chicago Public Library and championing access for all.
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