Toronto

Toronto Public Library to scrap late fines, calling them ineffective and a barrier to use

The Toronto Public Library says it is eliminating all late fines, saying they aren't effective in encouraging the return of materials and represent a barrier to library use.

Some 57,000 cardholders will see their accounts cleared of fines

Jennifer Sloane is the Library Service Manager at Toronto Public Library. The library says it is eliminating all late fines. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The Toronto Public Library says it is eliminating all late fines, saying they aren't effective in encouraging the return of materials and represent a barrier to library use.

Late fines for children were already scrapped last year, and the library says it has not charged late fines to any cardholders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

The library says it will continue to not charge late fines and make the change permanent on June 1.

It also says some 57,000 cardholders will see their accounts cleared of fines.

The library says users will still be responsible for returning materials, and those who don't will still need to pay the replacement cost for any materials that are lost, damaged or simply not returned.

Many other library systems across North America have eliminated late fines in recent years.

All of Nova Scotia's libraries removed overdue fees and forgave all existing fines in August 2020.

In British Columbia, Kamloops-area libraries introduced a similar policy change in March 2021, joining library systems across the province in eliminating overdue fines, including those in Burnaby, North Vancouver and Richmond.

In the Prairies, the Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg public library systems have also permanently eliminated late fees.

Other places in Canada, including Ottawa and all of Prince Edward Island, have also made the shift to scrap late fees at their public libraries. 

Mary Chevreau, the chair of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, has said with the rise of digital materials, fines are becoming a small fraction of overall revenue.

Public library systems in the United States have also eliminated late fines in recent months and years, including in New York City and the San Diego Public Library in California.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now