Those with overdue library books and materials are now fine-free, Hartford Public Library (HPL) announced Thursday.
In a unanimous vote, The HPL Board of Directors decided they will no longer be charging late fees on overdue materials.
According to Leticia Cotto, HPL’s Customer Experience Officer, the reasoning behind the movement was to better match its mission statement and to make library materials more accessible to all community members.
“Personally, the systemic structure of fines created a barrier that contributed to me not fully being able to access what was rightfully mine to access, my city library, the Hartford Public Library,” said Cotto in a press release. “Fines send the indirect message that you are ‘irresponsible’ and ‘if you can't afford to pay, this space is not for you.’ Barriers such as this do not align with the values of public libraries."
The Hartford Public Library first introduced its no late-fees policy in 2018 for both children and young adult materials, which showed a 19% increase in circulation of materials with a 60% decrease in unreturned items.
According to the HPL Materials and Lending Policy, library patrons will still be billed for the replacement of items if not returned as well as if patrons exhaust material renewals (available twice for books and audiobooks). Adults with $15 or more in fines will not be able to borrow books or other materials until the outstanding bill is paid.
Visit the Hartford Public Library website for more details.