NYC’s public libraries will no longer charge late fees for overdue books and other circulating materials, library and city officials announced this week. Existing overdue charges have been erased from all patron accounts, allowing New Yorkers a clean slate at the library. All three of the city’s library systems—New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library—eliminated late fees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it’s permanent.
The policy overhaul ends an antiquated process that wasn’t incentivizing returns while creating barriers to access for many vulnerable New Yorkers, according to library staff. Of the 400,000 library accounts that had $15 or more in fines, half were in high-needs communities and 30 percent belonged to kids or teens.
However, the new charge-free policy is only for approximately 30 days after a book’s due-back date. After that, the library will declare the item “lost” and a replacement fee will be placed on the patron’s account. This charge can vary depending on the original cost of the lost item.
In the NYPL system, once someone accrues $100 of replacement fees, they can no longer check out physical materials. Though they can continue to use e-resources, such as e-books and computers. If they return the books, all fees are dropped and/or reimbursed.
“This announcement is another major step towards making our public libraries, the heart of so many communities, accessible to all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Eliminating fines will let us serve even more New Yorkers, allowing them to enjoy all of the resources and programs that public libraries offer to grow and succeed.”
But before you head to an NYC public library with your kids to check out some books, browse our top picks for kids and teens to read, including:
- LGBTQ+ books
- stories by AAPI authors
- books starring characters with special needs
- kids’ books about women’s history
- books that honor Black history
- books about diversity
Details of the Fine Elimination at New York City’s Libraries
- New Yorkers of all ages will no longer need to pay any late fines on overdue materials
- In the past, library cards were blocked if they accrued $15 or more in fines; that will no longer be the case
- New Yorkers will still need to pay replacement fees if they lose material. Materials are considered lost after being overdue for about 1 month. If materials are returned, however, no fees will apply.
- Cards will be blocked from borrowing additional physical materials if patrons accrue replacement fees (thresholds differ per system). However, even with a block on their cards, patrons can still access computers, e-books, and other digital services.
Fine-Free Fun at NYC Public Library’s Welcome Week: Oct. 18-23
In an effort to welcome patrons back to libraries, the New York Public Library will hold a week of giveaways and special programs at all branch locations. Here are some of our top picks for kids and families during Welcome Week at the libraries:
South Beach Library, 21-25 Robin Lane, Staten Island
Monday. Oct. 18, 11am-5pm
Stop by the library to see and contribute to the new ‘Welcome Wall,’ a space where the community can come together to write down and share what they have missed about the library and their hopes for the future.
Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library, 2550 Victory Blvd., Staten Island
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 11-11:30am
Ages: 2-6, adult
Join Ms. Dana in a show and tell-style story-time adventure. Bring along a picture book of your choice to share and Miss Dana will share picture books and rhymes, in story-time fashion. Registration required by phone: 718-494-1642.
West New Brighton Library, 976 Castleton Ave., Staten Island
Friday, Oct. 22, 3:30-4:30pm
Get an introduction to Microsoft Makecode Arcade, a web-based beginner-friendly code editor to create retro arcade games for the web and for dedicated hardware. Learn the basics on how to create a video game in Makecode Arcade.
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