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Fine-ally! The Bowen Library says good-bye to late fees

Bowen Library joining many others across the country making the change
Bowen Island Library
Bowen Island Public Library

The Bowen Library Board and staff are thrilled to announce the Bowen Library is now fine-free! In an effort to provide more equitable and accessible library service, patrons are no longer charged for returning items late, and staff will clear old overdue charges on patron accounts.

The Bowen Library joins public libraries all across the country in going fine-free, and believes that everyone should have access to the same information, resources, and support that the Library has to offer, regardless of their financial situation.

Overdue fines were originally implemented in libraries as a motivator to return materials on time, however studies have found that late fees have the consequence of disproportionally impacting lower-income and marginalized populations as well as children and families. With e-alerts for materials coming due, and a steady increase in the borrowing of digital materials which are automatically returned, overdue fines are a decreasing and unstable revenue source for the Library.

Libraries who have gone fine-free have seen an increase in patrons return to the library, with many coming back after not borrowing for years due to charges on their accounts. The Library would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone back, and to encourage people to talk to staff as we will always work with you to get you using the Library once again.

You may be wondering if material will be returned at all now that we’ve gone fine-free, and the answer is yes! Libraries who have already implemented fine-free policies have seen no considerable change in the length of holds queues or borrowing periods. Lending periods at Bowen Library will stay the same, with an item becoming overdue at three weeks if not renewed or returned.

The Library will continue to send overdue notices by email, and after six weeks have passed the item will be marked lost and the patron will be responsible for the replacement cost of the item. Some fees will continue to be charged, such as when an item is damaged, lost, or an inter-library loan is not picked up. The Library will also continue to charge for services such as room rentals and printing.

This fine-free initiative is supported through one-time funding from the Province of B.C. A Covid-19 Relief and Recovery grant will be used to support the fine-free project for three years, at which time the project will be reassessed.

The Library Board and staff are pleased to be able to remove late fees at a time of rising financial pressures for the Bowen community, and we hope to see you at the Library soon!