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Overdue fees permanently eliminated at PGPL

In place since January, the Prince George Public Library has decided to make permanent its policy of waiving late fees for books and other materials returned after their due dates. The decision was made public on Monday.
Prince George Public Library (cropped)

In place since January, the Prince George Public Library has decided to make permanent its policy of waiving late fees for books and other materials returned after their due dates.

The decision was made public on Monday.

"We're doing that because we think it's a barrier that's preventing people from accessing the library," PGPL communications manager Amy Dhanjal said.

The charge had been 10 cents a day per item. 

"If you're a parent who takes out 40 books for one of your children, it can add up pretty quickly over a few days," Dhanjal said. "We've seen families do that routinely - they pick out a huge bag full of books and if you're just a few days late, you now have to determine whether you can come back to borrow again."

People who fail to return their items won't get off completely. Items not returned within 28 days are considered damaged or lost and privileges can be suspended and an invoice mailed for the item's replacement cost. Your account could even get sent to a collection agency.

Dhanjal did not have a precise figure but said late fees did make up a "significant portion" of the $70,000 PGPL typically generates in internal revenue. Other sources include room rental and display case rentals. However, PGPL's operating budget is over $4 million a year, making late fees small coin.

"It won't impact our services in any way," Dhanjal said.

Libraries across the country have made the same move, she noted. 

"We've had people say 'we'll still make donations in lieu of overdue fees," Dhanjal said, addting that staff remains in the process of wiping fines off patrons' accounts.

"If you have other fees, if you have damaged a book, you lost it, maybe you were sent to collections, it would still be on your account," Dhanjal said. "But if you had just overdue fees, we're working to eliminate those."

For more information on loan periods go to www.pgpl.ca/cards#loan_periods.