Goodbye Late Fees!
I am thrilled to share that the Pickering Public Library is saying goodbye to late fees on overdue items. We are joining the hundreds of libraries across North America who have recognized that this out-of-date practice does not motivate most people to return their items on time and is a barrier for the most vulnerable residents of our community.
Earlier in my career as a librarian, I had a surprising number of conversations with young children who were not allowed to borrow books because their parents did not want to owe the library money. If I had to guess I’d say someone in the family likely had a bad experience with a library in the past – perhaps they returned a book a little late, a fee was applied, and the charge, no matter how “small,” put a financial strain on their household. Sadly, some parents with late fees on their family accounts often stop taking their kids to the library altogether.
In light of this problem, many librarians have recently questioned whether the benefits of charging late fees are worth the costs. Costs that include children being raised without access to books that help them develop literacy skills, become successful students, and learn to love reading. In addition to families with young children, we know that fees can be a barrier for many community members facing a multitude of hardships. It’s not just families who flourish when late fees are eliminated. A community without barriers to accessing information and resources has far reaching benefits.
I know many library clients worry that if we stop charging late fees that no one will return their items on time. I’d like to address this concern. Based on the data we’ve carefully reviewed from years when we charged late fees and the pandemic years when we stopped charging late fees, more items were returned on time when we stopped charging late fees. This is similar to results reported by other public libraries that have eliminated late fees. (Please see the FAQs below for more answers on this topic.)
What about late fees on your account from before the pandemic? All historic late fees have been forgiven and this will be reflected on your library account by the end of June 2022.
We want every resident of Pickering to use their library. If you haven’t visited the library in a long time, we’d love to see you! Sign up for a library card, attend a program, borrow something from our collections (physical or digital) and stop by one of your three local library locations and chat with staff.
The Pickering Public Library works hard to be the best public library we can be for our community.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will not charging late fees increase wait times for library items?
The Library stopped charging late fees in March 2020 as an adjustment to pandemic conditions. Our data shows that more items were returned on time in 2021 when the Library did not charge late fees compared to 2019 when late fees were charged. Clients will still be responsible for bringing back their borrowed items on time so that everyone can have easy and timely access to our collections. To help clients keep track of their due dates, we’ll continue to send customers reminders to return their materials.
What happens if library clients don’t return their items on time?
Clients are responsible for returning their library items on time. Clients are notified of overdue items by phone or email and will be charged for the cost of replacement for items that are lost, damaged, or not returned. A bill for these replacement costs will be sent by mail. Items that have been charged to an account and are later returned will be fully credited.
Clients with outstanding fees of $20 or more ($10 for children) will not be able to borrow any more items until their account balance is paid.
Will you forgive late fees currently on my account from before the pandemic?
Yes! All existing late fees are now forgiven. Client accounts will be updated by the end of June 2022. However, if you have outstanding replacement fees for item(s) you have not returned, these need to still be paid.
What if I have library items that are overdue?
If you have overdue library items, bring them back as soon as possible to avoid replacement charges. If you have been charged for an overdue item, the charge will be reversed when you return it.
What if I have found a really late item from the library?
It doesn't matter how late they are; we welcome all library items back!
Previous CEO Messages
CEO Statement: Racist Imagery and Children’s Books
I am sharing information with the community today about how recent news concerning racist content in children’s books is being dealt with at Pickering Public Library.
In early March 2021, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company in charge of the legacy of Theodore Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), released a statement to say that it would cease publication of six Dr. Seuss titles due to racist and insensitive imagery. Included in its statement were these remarks:
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalogue represents and supports all communities and families.”
In late March 2021, Scholastic released a statement to announce that they would cease publication of Ook & Gluk, a children’s chapter book by Dav Pilkey, for perpetuating “passive racism”.
When questions or concerns about titles in our collection are raised, our Selectors consult the Resource Development Policy to evaluate the issues and make recommendations to leadership for what should be done. In some instances, we may decide to retain the items but move them to a more mature collection (i.e. teen or adult collection) if we believe that the materials are not appropriate for children; in others, we may decide to keep the items in its original collection or remove the items altogether from the Library.
The Selectors reviewed the Dr. Seuss and Dav Pilkey titles in our collection and noted several instances of racist imagery including obvious anti-Asian racism. Given that the audience for these materials are children and the considerable potential for these images to be harmful to children, we have made the decision to remove the physical titles from our collection. Digital copies are controlled by a library consortium in which we have a membership. We are advocating that the digital copies of these titles also be removed. This work is ongoing.
As you are aware, there are many recent, tragic examples of hate crimes in the news including violent attacks on Asian-Canadians in the GTA and the tragic killing of eight Asian-Americans in Atlanta. Race-based attacks cause physical and psychological harm to people in our community and it is important for institutions like the public library to ensure everyone in our communities feels welcome and has a sense of belonging.
As part of the Pickering Public Library’s commitment to providing inclusive spaces that promote belonging, we recognize the role we can play to reduce children’s access to racist imagery. We will soon begin a project to examine the content of all children’s picture books and early readers in our collection to find issues similar to the ones contained in the Dr. Seuss and Dav Pilkey books. We want children and families in Pickering to find titles that build understanding for others and do not cause harm through stereotypes or perpetuating racist imagery. Many new books are published each year and we look forward to continuously evolving a children’s collection that better reflects, celebrates, and includes the valuable diversity within our community.
We acknowledge that we have much more listening and learning to do. We are striving to provide library experiences that honour and amplify the unique stories and voices of Pickering. We will continue to seek opportunities to do better as we carve a new path and explore different ways to make the lasting change we seek.