Toronto Public Library eliminates late fees on children’s accounts to combat racial inequity

Toronto Public Library eliminates late fees on children’s accounts to combat racial inequity
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The Toronto Public Library announced that in its effort to combat inequity, it will be getting rid of its late fees for children. 

On Tuesday, the TPL announced it will be waiving late fees for the 33,000 children’s accounts currently on the hook for overdue books. According to Toronto-based CP24, waiving the fees will cost the library approximately $600,000. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory supported the policy and said that removing children’s fines “will remove the financial barrier that has kept many Torontonians from enjoying all that our libraries have to offer.”

The TPL claims that “late fines have a disproportionate impact on racialized and low-income communities in Toronto.” 

They estimated that five per cent of children from low-income communities have blocked library cards due to overdue fees, compared to one per cent of children from wealthier families. 

Late fees are usually used by libraries as an incentive for book borrowers to return reading material in a timely manner. Despite the TPL’s removal of this incentive, the mayor argues that the library does not expect wait times to increase “significantly.”

Library customers will still be expected to return the materials without the fines in place. The mayor says that “those who do not [return books] will still need to pay the replacement cost for any materials lost, damaged, or not returned.”

Removing the fines is part of a larger plan to phase out all library fees by 2022. With the support of a “budget enhancement” request to the city of Toronto, the library intends to remove fines for teens and adults in addition to children. The move is estimated to cost the library at least $1.4 million. The library is now calling on donors and the city budget to help them cover the costs. 

According to the Daily Wire, the move is not unprecedented, and has been made in several cities throughout the United States, including San Francisco, Baltimore and Columbus.

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