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City announces it's doing away with late fees at Toronto Public Libraries

Last Updated Mar 2, 2021 at 4:32 pm EDT

Toronto Public Library. Susan Yin

Kids with overdue books will no longer have to pay late fines at Toronto Public Libraries (TPL).

For many of us, it’s not a big deal, but Mayor John Tory says for others, it can become a barrier. That’s why Toronto Public Libraries are doing away with overdue fees for children under the age of 12.

“People have different perspectives on outstanding fines that some others might have,” said Tory on Tuesday.

“The result could be a disconnection between those children that need it the most and their libraries in their local neighborhoods and we want to make sure that we are making these libraries accessible for everyone, without exception.”

TPL says overdue fines were formerly introduced to encourage customers to return materials on time, but have been found to be ineffective in encouraging the return of library materials as designed.

And for those that think removing fines takes away the incentive for people to return books, think again.

Sue Graham-Nutter, Chair of the TPL board, says the data shows it’s the opposite.

“There is little evidence that fines encouraged the prompt return of books,” Graham-Nutter told 680 NEWS.

“In fact, the libraries that have reported fines report the same, or an increased return rate of materials.”

In Canada alone, there are 189 fine-free library systems, including 27 in Ontario and nine in the GTA.

The library plans to remove overdue fines for teenagers and adults next year.

“We know fines are a barrier to the use of all library services including free children’s activities, homework help, computer, and wifi access. TPL’s mandate is to be free and equitable, so removing this barrier is in keeping with the library’s purpose,” said Graham-Nutter.

“This is especially important in a city as diverse as ours with many newcomers and people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.”

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