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‘We’re going fine-free’: Toronto Public Library eliminates late fees for children’s books

File photo. A child reading a children's book. Liu Junxi/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) has announced it’s going “fine-free” when it comes to overdue fines on all children’s books checked out on child library cards.

Library staff made the announcement on Tuesday, saying it’s being done in an effort to remove financial “barriers to library access, especially for those who need it most.”

“Late fines have a disproportionate impact on racialized and low-income communities in Toronto,” a statement said.

“Five per cent of children from these communities have blocked TPL library cards because of overdue fines compared to one percent of children from other areas.”

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Staff said late fees were originally introduced to ensure books and materials were returned on time, but have found the regime to be ineffective in the return of library materials and was a barrier to the use of all library services.

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Through funds raised by other donors, the statement said eliminating fines on children’s books was made possible.

“By eliminating children’s overdue fines, we are removing barriers that were once impeding access to a wide variety of services and support offered at our city’s libraries,” Mayor John Tory said.

However, TPL staff said patrons will still be responsible for returning materials and will be charged for any materials that are lost, damaged or not returned. Due date notifications will still be sent out as reminders, the statement added.

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