Winnipeg libraries move to fine-free model, outstanding fees waived

Overdue fines and borrowing fees are being eliminated at Winnipeg libraries as of Jan. 1. Getty Images

Winnipeg libraries are shelving overdue fines and borrowing fees.

The move, first suggested by Coun. Sherri Rollins, will see fines for all overdue items and DVD/Blu-ray borrowing fees eliminated as of Jan. 1.

“Overdue fines create a barrier for those who can benefit most from library services. Fines also create negative experiences for our community and library staff, and discourage use of the library,” reads a statement on the city’s website.

“Now everyone can access and enjoy the services we offer without worrying about financial penalties if items are returned a few days late.”

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According to the city’s website, library customers will still be asked to return borrowed items on time and “courtesy overdue notices” will be sent out as a reminder.

If library items are not returned, the city says replacement costs will be charged.

As for library scofflaws who have previously racked up fines, the city says the penalties will be waived under the new rules.

Click to play video: 'Contactless pick-up at Winnipeg libraries'
Contactless pick-up at Winnipeg libraries

And repeat offenders who have had their library cards blocked due to accumulated fees and fines will now be able to use their cards, the city says.

Rollins, who represents Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry, brought a motion forward in October asking council to consider waiving fees, suggesting a fine-free model would put Winnipeg’s libraries more in line with other cities across North America.

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Saskatoon and Halifax are among the Canadian cities that have already eliminated late fines at libraries.

While libraries remain closed in Winnipeg due to COVID-19 restrictions, contactless holds pick-up and return services are being offered at a number of branches.

— With files from Sam Thompson

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