If you’ve been avoiding the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) due to a mountain of late fees, you’re in luck.
VPL has announced its newest initiative: a two-week fine forgiveness campaign meant to welcome back library patrons who are affected by fines.
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The program will take place from June 14 to 27. Library patrons simply call, visit online, or visit a VPL branch to have their late fees forgiven. Outstanding fines will be erased no matter how large they are. The only exceptions are costs associated with interlibrary loans and fees for visitors or subscription cards.
The library says that more than 70,000 patrons are impacted by fines. One in 10 of those individuals has lost their ability to borrow books.
Once a VPL patron reaches $10 in fines, their borrowing privileges are suspended. The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the social impact of library fines, especially for residents of lower incomes.
“Fines disproportionately impact those facing economic and social barriers,” VPL explained in a release. “30% of all blocked cardholders live in four of Vancouver’s lowest-income neighbourhoods (Strathcona, Grandview/Woodland, Downtown, Mount Pleasant).”
“For example, in Strathcona, the Vancouver neighbourhood with the city’s lowest median household income, almost one in five library users have lost the ability to borrow library materials.”
Christina de Castell, Chief Librarian and CEO of VPL, added that they’ve heard multiple stories from people who have stopped using their local library due to not returning a book on time.
“It’s often those most in need of library services that stop visiting us altogether,” she says. “By forgiving fines, we hope to let these patrons know that we want them to come back and benefit from all the library has to offer.”
The VPL adds that it’s currently exploring ways to move to a permanent fine-free model. More information regarding the fine forgiveness campaign can be found online.