Saskatoon Public Library wants to forgive you for overdue books
New program will erase $2.50 in fines for every 15 minutes you spend inside a library branch
The Saskatoon Public Library is again offering an amnesty of sorts to bring people back into the library's good graces by forgiving fines, allowing users to once again borrow books — but you'll have to actually put in some time in the library to clear those fines.
Some 16,000 users are banned from borrowing because of late fines.
"They cannot use the library because they have fines over $10 so we are trying to help them get their borrowing privileges back," said library director and CEO Carol Cooley.
There may be others on the edge of being banned who have exiled themselves.
Late fines a familiar story
"It's a barrier for people," said Saskatoon libraries director of public services Beth Cote.
"Oftentimes it is a psychological barrier for someone to come back in, and come up to the desk and say, 'I owe $5.'"
Back in 2015, the library simply wiped the slate blank, waiving fines for its cardholders.
This time, in a program the library is calling "Good Readance," you actually have to set foot in the library — and every 15 minutes you spend there, the library will erase $2.50 from your fines. But there is no clock to punch.
"They self-report that they've been doing something for 15 minutes," said Cote.
"I think it allows people the opportunity … to find out what it is they can do at the library to spend some time doing that, and to have a little bit of fun with it."
Good Readance club cards
Although the Good Readance program is just underway, and runs until the end of July, the library understands the story arc, and the conclusion is predictable.
"People, when they have the chance to come back to the library — either because we've waived their fines or they participate in a program that waives their fines — they come back in large numbers," said Cote.
The library has already given out 1,000 Good Readance club cards.
This all comes amid a backdrop of uncertainty for the Saskatoon Public Library. A new or renovated central branch is needed, and so the library has been busy compiling a wish list from users.
It includes things like green space, natural light and recording studios. Also, much to her relief, Cote said, "they want books."
A plan for a new central library is expected next spring.
With files from Saskatoon Morning