A little over a month ago, we published a story about Chicago libraries doing away with overdue book fees, which are disproportionately affecting the city’s lower-income residents. Now, one month since the fines were eliminated, Chicago libraries are reporting a 240 percent increase in the number of books returned.
According to the Library Commissioner, Andre Belli, a lot of patrons “who have been hesitant to come back to the library“ because of overdue fees are now heading back to the library without feeling afraid of being fined. Chicago became the nation’s first major city to forgo overdue fines, which went into effect Oct. 1 and erased all outstanding fees.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the first black female and first openly gay leader in the city, made the policy change in her latest attempt to remove barriers that deter youth and low-income citizens.