Surrey Libraries have eliminated overdue fines on all borrowed materials.
Surrey’s public library system had been fine-free since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, and now the move is permanent.
Overdue library fines can be a barrier for some residents using library services, administrators say.
“The suspension of fines during the pandemic has shown us that fines are not what motivate people to return books and materials to the library,” Surinder Libraries Surrey, Chief Librarian, said in a statement. January 31 press release.
“Eliminating fines actually provides more equitable access to library services, increases users and material circulation, and reduces lost materials.”
All historical overdue fines on customer records have also been cleared.
However, the change will not affect due dates or fees charged for lost or damaged items. Library patrons are always responsible for costs associated with unreturned, damaged and lost materials.
According to Surrey Libraries, total revenue from fines represented less than 1.2% of the organization’s annual operating budget in 2019.
“Fine revenue has also steadily declined over the past decade, with many patrons switching to e-books and electronic audio which are automatically returned to the library on the due date,” the press release notes.
In September 2021, the Surrey Libraries Board voted to scrap outstanding fines for good, pending Council’s approval of Surrey’s five-year financial plan on December 24th.
“The effort and resources expended to collect fines costs approximately half of what is generated by overdue fines revenue,” a report to city council reads. “Eliminating these fines would lead to increased use of the library, reduced conflicts between patrons and staff, and the return of more borrowed library materials.”
Regionally, several neighboring library systems also cleared overdue fines, including Fraser Valley Regional Library, Burnaby Public Library and Richmond Public Library.