Okanagan libraries switch over to late fine-free model

Click to play video: 'Westmount library drops late fees in move to encourage more borrowing'
Westmount library drops late fees in move to encourage more borrowing
Late fees for books borrowers fail to return on time are a total turnoff and fines can add up quickly. The Westmount Public Library has launched a new initiative aiming to change the way libraries apply penalties for late books. As Global's Amanda Jelowicki reports, it has nothing to do with collecting money. – Jan 27, 2023

Okanagan Regional Library is turning a page on its old ways and ditching late fees.

In a letter to library patrons sent last week, Danielle Hubbard, CEO of Okanagan Regional Library, said an experiment started during the pandemic has paid off, or at the very least, cost nothing.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we suspended late fees on overdue materials. The goal was to ensure that our community could continue accessing essential library resources without the burden of accruing fines, especially when health and safety required that many people remain at home,” Hubbard wrote.

“We wanted you to focus on what truly matters—your well-being and that of your loved ones—without worrying about the return date of your library items.”

Click to play video: 'Drag Storytime at the Kelowna Library'
Drag Storytime at the Kelowna Library

Once the pall of the pandemic lifted, library officials continued with the practice and monitored the impact of this change on their collection and service quality.

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“The results have been overwhelmingly positive: eliminating late fines has not negatively impacted the return rate of borrowed items or decreased the quality of our collection,” Hubbard wrote.

“Moreover, we’ve observed that the fines-free approach has made our library more inclusive and accessible, encouraging more people to take advantage of our resources and services.”

Click to play video: 'Okanagan Regional Library branches opening to public again'
Okanagan Regional Library branches opening to public again

Based on these findings, the ORL board of directors has unanimously passed the decision to make ORL a fines-free library on a permanent basis.

While late fines will no longer be charged, patrons will still be responsible for replacing the cost of lost or damaged items. Fees for these instances will remain in place to ensure the sustainability of the collection.

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