The Boston Public Library announced today it is ending late fines for books not returned by their due dates - and that anybody with existing late fees will have them deleted from their record.
BPL says it can do this thanks to a $125,000 addition to its proposed budget by acting Mayor Kim Janey, as a way of reducing inequities in financially disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The library had been holding off on trying to collect late fees since last spring, when branches were shut due to Covid-19. In a statement, BPL President David Leonard said:
The BPL is proud to join the growing number of public libraries who are abolishing late fines and ensuring maximum accessibility, especially at this time of greatest need among those who rely on our resources most.
With this announcement, patrons can continue to access our collections, as well as our physical and digital resources, without the financial barrier of late fines. We have always believed that as a public library, our services should be ‘Free to All,’ and as the current global health crisis continues and we move into recovery, policy changes such as this are more important than ever. Thank you to Mayor Janey for authorizing the removal of late fines. Patrons who have the means to further support our work will also be invited to make a donation in lieu of fines.
This doesn't mean people sitting on overdue books are completely off the hook, however: They won't be allowed to borrow more books or other library offerings without first returning the late items.