Ottawa

Overdue library book? Ottawa Public Library to lower late fees

Ottawa Public Library is set relieve some of the pain of late fees in the new year by reducing what it charges for overdue books.

'We see this as a little post-Christmas present to everybody'

Ottawa Public Library deputy CEO Monique Désormeaux hopes the fee reductions draw people back to the library. 0:34

Ottawa Public Library is set relieve some of the pain of late fees in the new year by reducing what it charges for overdue books. 

Beginning on Jan. 24, these changes will go into effect:

  • Late fees for children's books will drop to 10 cents a day from 25 cents a day.
  • Late fees for adult books will lower to 40 cents a day from 50 cents a day. 
  • A new fee of $1 will be charged for books placed on hold that are not picked up.

"We see this as a little post-Christmas present to everybody," said Monique Désormeaux, the library's deputy CEO.

It's part of a plan to increase membership, improve circulation and reduce wait times for materials among library members, Désormeaux said. 

"We have strong user base but we are always trying to attract new customers or lapsed customers," said Désormeaux.

To make it easier for readers to hold onto books and avoid late fees in the first place, the library will offer unlimited renewals on regular books, unless they are requested by another library card holder. The loan period for unrenewed books is three weeks.

A new charge of $1 will cover the cost of reshelving books placed on hold but not picked up.

The prices for non-residents to get library cards is also going up: from $50 to $80 for individuals, and from $120 to $160 for families and households.

'Can't afford' to drop fees entirely

In the past year, a number of public libraries across North America have dropped late fees entirely, but Désormeaux said that was not an option for the Ottawa Public Library.

Starting Jan. 24, 2018, it will cost a bit less if you have an overdue book. (CBC News)

"We can't afford it,"  Désormeaux said.

"We get between $1.2 million and $1.4 million in fees on an annual basis, and so while some fees are dropping and some new ones are being introduced we think it will be win-win for everybody."

Users can avoid fees altogether by renewing online or calling the library, she said.