By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Back in 2019, the Boston Public Library eliminated late fees for those under 18 years old. Now the first public library to lend books in the United States is set to do away with late fines for everyone.

Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced Wednesday that late fines will be permanently removed July 1, pending approval by the library’s Board of Trustees. The initiative will be supported through $125,000 of “revenue relief” in Janey’s proposed 2021 city budget.

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“With the BPL Board of Trustees’ approval, we look forward to eliminating library late fines and the equity imbalance they can create,” Janey said in a statement. “The Boston Public Library provides important resources, programs, and services to our communities. By removing this barrier to access, we are ensuring that these resources are actually accessible to everyone.”

The library collected over $176,000 in overdue fines in Fiscal Year 2019, and that’s only “a fraction” of the total overdue fine balance. About 42,000 Boston library cardholders, many from “economy challenged parts of the city,” owe late fees, but those will be removed on July 1.

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“The BPL is proud to join the growing number of public libraries who are abolishing late fines and ensuring maximum accessibility, especially at this time of greatest need among those who rely on our resources most,” said BPL president David Leonard in a statement. “With this announcement, patrons can continue to access our collections, as well as our physical and digital resources, without the financial barrier of late fines.”

The library has not been assessing late fines since March 2020, the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the future, library users will not face financial penalties for late returns, but they’ll still have to return overdue books if they want to check out additional items. Cardholders will also be responsible for replacement costs of a book that is lost or not returned.

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