Today’s Solutions: November 27, 2022

The city of Chicago’s public library system is the latest and the largest library system to do away with late fees for overdue materials. The change comes as a response to the fact that late charges were disproportionately affecting the city’s lower-income residents, one in three of which has their card on hold for fines, compared to one in six in the wealthier regions of the city. Other cities, such as Phoenix, Dallas, and San Francisco have also adopted fee-free policies in an effort to keep reading material equally accessible for all.

Curtis Rogers, communications director for the Urban Libraries Council, says: “Overdue fines are not distinguishing between people who are responsible and who are not. They’re distinguishing between people who can and cannot use the money to overcome a common oversight.”

Chicago’s libraries will instead automatically renew materials for up to 15 times before members are charged for the item. Studies have found that library fees ultimately do not reduce overdue book rates, and adopting more lenient policies is a more effective way to keep learning materials available for all.

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