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The New York Public Library System is making a major policy change, removing late fees and waiving existing fines.
The new policy, which went into effect on Tuesday, clears and erases all previous fines and replacement fees for all patrons, the online library said. Going forward, the library will no longer collect late fees on items returned after the due date, but will continue to charge replacement fees for lost items.
The library system’s announcement focuses on “removing a barrier to access and ensuring that all New Yorkers have free and open access to knowledge and opportunities,” a press release said. Tuesday.
With the elimination of fines, the New York library system joins other major US cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and San Diego, all of which have removed late fees, for example The Washington Post.
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In Tuesday’s press release, New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx said the COVID-19 pandemic had in part inspired the library’s new policy.
“During the pandemic, it was clearer than ever that we live in a Tale of two cities, with our most vulnerable citizens too often left behind, ”said Marx. “We have to work to make sure we adhere to our mission of making knowledge and opportunities accessible to all, and that means paying late fines. It is an outdated and inefficient way of encouraging clients to return their books; for those who can afford the fines, this is hardly an incentive. “
He added: “For those who cannot afford the fines – disproportionately low-income New Yorkers – they become a real barrier to access that we can no longer accept. It is a step towards a more society. fair, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we’re proud to make it happen. “
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With the change in policy, the library hopes to encourage more New Yorkers to use their branches and make the library system more accessible and “fair,” the press release said. Before Tuesday’s policy went into effect, the library would block customers’ cards if they were fined more than $ 15. Before paying any fees to existing accounts, the library system said about 400,000 New Yorkers had been fined more than $ 15, “more than half of them in communities in need.” .
“This announcement is another major step in making our public libraries, the heart of so many communities, accessible to all,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the press release. “Eliminating fines will allow us to serve even more New Yorkers, allowing them to take advantage of all the resources and programs offered by public libraries to grow and succeed.”
To kick off the new policy, the library announced Hospitality Week, a week of programming and giveaways at all New York Public Library branches starting October 18 and ending October 23.