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Whistler Public Library says goodbye to late fines

Outstanding fines gone as well; replacement fines still stand
FINE-FREE The Whistler Public Library celebrated its 31st birthday on Sunday, Aug. 27. file photo

Slow readers rejoice — the Whistler Public Library (WPL) is doing away with late fines.

As of Sunday, Aug. 27, the WPL is late-fine free.

Outstanding late fees have been wiped as well, though fines associated with replacement costs are still in place.

The move coincides with the library's 31st birthday, and was approved by the WPL board of trustees last fall.

"Fines are less than one per cent of our operating revenue and do not represent the relationship we want to have with the community, which is one of altruism and good will. The practice is no longer keeping up with the mission," said WPL board chair Gord Annand in a release.

The move is intended to eliminate financial barriers and allow better access to library materials and services.

The elimination of fines doesn't mean you get to keep your books forever, though — after six weeks, patrons will be charged replacement costs.

"It is important to acknowledge that people have already paid for these resources with their tax dollars," said WPL director Elizabeth Tracy in the release.

"Fines often discourage access to the library by the very people who need it the most. We know that a vibrant library correlates to a healthy community and we want people to feel positively about the library."

In recent years, the WPL has focused on improving customer service, including removing barriers that prevented staff from being able to help patrons to the fullest extent.

In that time, the WPL has made service desks more approachable, allowed for unlimited renewals for items without holds and extended its hours.

The library has been moving towards going fine-free for some time — kids' books have been without late fines for 10 years, and staff now have more leeway to reduce or waive fines at their discretion.

"The Chicago Public Library can attest that 95 per cent of items were returned on time prior to the change and they are still at 95 per cent after discontinuing fines. The Pemberton Public Library has been fine-free since 2008," the WPL added in the release.

Donations can be made directly to the library or through Canada Helps on the library's website at