NEW YORK (AP) – New York City public libraries will no longer charge late fees and waive existing fines for overdue books and other materials, city officials said on Tuesday.
Late fees had already been suspended since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now be permanently eliminated, elected officials and leaders of the city’s three library networks said in a statement.
“This announcement is another important step in making our public libraries, the heart of so many communities, accessible to all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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. “
In 2019, the city’s libraries collected about $ 3.2 million in late fees. No late fees were collected in 2020 due to the pandemic, and libraries made up for lost revenue with further fines.
New Yorkers will still have to pay replacement fees if they lose books or other materials, library officials said. A book is considered lost after one month is overdue, but if it is returned there will be no charge.
The new policy covers the New York Public Library, with branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, as well as the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library.
All three library systems join libraries in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia that no longer charge overdue fines.
More than half of the 400,000 New Yorkers whose library cards were blocked because they owed at least $ 15 in fines live in high-need communities, officials said. These customers will now be able to consult the books.
“Public libraries strive to be the most democratic institutions in our society, providing everyone with access to the resources they need to enrich their minds and improve their lives,” said Linda E. Johnson, CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library. “Eliminating late fines means providing truly fair access to everything the library has to offer. “