No more late fees at Kitchener Public Library

The Kitchener Public Library announced it is permanently removing overdue fines. It joins other libraries across Canada who transitioned to a fine-free service model.

Library says going fine-free will support those in the community who need it most

The Kitchener Public Library joins other libraries across Canada to drop fines for items that haven't been returned on time. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

The Kitchener Public Library (KPL) is permanently doing away with overdue fines in an effort to provide service to all members of the community.

The library said studies found fines impacted lower income, marginalized and minority populations. 

"Public libraries play a pivotal role in supporting education and literacy. It's important that everyone has access to the same information, resources and support that we have to offer, regardless of their financial situation," said Stephanie Soulis, board chair of the KPL.

"Going fine-free will support those in our community who need it most. I am so excited to welcome them back to their library." 

You still have to return the item

Just because fines are a thing of the past, doesn't mean borrowers can keep their items for an extended period of time. Items still have to be returned.

Customers will be billed for long overdue items if extended reminders are ignored.

For anyone wondering what it means for items that have been put on hold, KPL points to other libraries who are fine-free that have seen quicker returns of overdue materials.

During a special finance and corporate services committee meeting in Kitchener in December, KPL CEO Mary Chevereau said fines in 2019 made up $163,000 of KPL's budget. 

Chevereau told the committee cutting the fees would have minimal impact as the library was proposing to add a new special event rental fee to offset that revenue loss.

The library now joins 100 major libraries across North America who transitioned to a fine-free service model.

In Canada, public libraries in Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Vaughan, Brampton and Hamilton got rid of fines, as suggested in the committee meeting. In Vancouver, children's items are fine-free.