The Runner | Surrey Public Library no longer imposes late document fines
In September 2021, the library requested to eliminate outstanding fines and ask the city to subsidize revenue that would be lost in the absence of fines.
On December 24, Surrey City Council approved the application.
After fines for children’s books were eliminated, the library decided to completely eliminate outstanding fines due to the pandemic. When the first pandemic safety measures began in early 2020, the public library closed and stopped issuing fines, and when it reopened, the policy continued.
Seline Kutan, director of communications and advancement at Surrey Libraries, said the library wanted to do its part to support the community during the pandemic, and waiving fines was one way of doing that.
One of the purposes of collecting fines for late documents was to encourage library users to return their documents on time. However, a report of the council meeting shows that it only creates a “barrier to the use and a disproportionate impact[s] children and other vulnerable populations.
“Families have busy schedules. Some families face more hurdles than just economic ones, and sometimes it can be very difficult for people to get those books back to the library in time,” says Kutan.
When debts are created from an accumulation of fines, Kutan says families feel like they can no longer come to the library because of their fines, which freezes their accounts.
“This [also] takes time to process these fines when people finally come to pay them. It takes staff time that could be better used to meet the other needs of our community and our customers,” says Kutan.
Since 2015, Surrey Library has removed overdue fines for children’s books, but the report shows it has not increased the rate of item returns. Even when all fines were suspended at the start of the pandemic, no real change was seen in return rates.
The borrowing time of the materials at Surrey Libraries varies from one week to six weeks, depending on the item. Library users are allowed to borrow a certain number of items and renew them before their due date, as long as no one else puts them on hold.
When materials are not returned by their due date, the system updates the material as “lost” and Kutan says that when the material is finally returned, there is a charge to process it again in the system.
So, although there is no fine for delay, a fee still has to be paid to deal with ‘lost’ items. This rule also applies to items that are physically lost and damaged.
Other libraries in Metro Vancouver like Burnaby Public Library, North Vancouver District Public Library, North Vancouver Public Library are free. From February 14, the Richmond Public Library will also be without fine.
In order to ensure that the documents are returned or replaced, if they are lost or damaged, these libraries plan to charge a replacement fee and prevent users from borrowing more books if they have overdue documents. since a long time.