West Vancouver, B.C. — On Tuesday, May 3, West Vancouver Memorial Library (WVML) will stop charging late fees on their materials in order to provide more equitable library service, joining libraries like North Vancouver City Library, North Vancouver District Public Library, and many other libraries in BC.
Of WVML’s 35,234 adult cardholders, 1,486 are currently blocked due to outstanding fines. Late fees create a barrier to accessing the Library, and eliminating them furthers WVML’s mandate to support everyone in the community. “Eliminating late fees reduces financial stress and will increase the circulation rate,” explains Public Service Assistant, Monica Mao. “Patrons will not have to worry about not being able to return books and paying huge fines in many circumstances. Removing late fees will be beneficial to the community.”
This benefit to the community does not come at a major cost to the Library—revenue from late fees has already been declining over the years. In fact, late fees only made up 1% of the Library’s funding in 2019. In comparison, contributions to the Library through the Friends of the Library and WVML Foundation make up nearly 5% of the annual budget.
While some may worry that removing late fees will lead to longer hold times or a lower return rate, many other libraries in Metro Vancouver and across North America have removed late fees and have reported no drops in return rate, borrowing, or library membership. When WVML removed late fees from youth materials in 2015 and large print materials in 2017, there was no drop in circulation or return rates.
The Library will still charge for holds that are not picked up and for items that are lost or damaged. Items borrowed from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan will still be subject to late fees.
On May 3, patrons whose accounts have been blocked for having over $20 in late fees will be unblocked from borrowing items from the Library. Patrons who have charges for lost or damaged items and still have blocked accounts are encouraged to visit the Library and discuss their options.
“Welcome back,” says Monica Mao to those who haven’t been using the Library due to late fees. “It is really nice to see you back to our library.”
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Sarah Barton-Bridges, Head of Communications