CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -For most of its existence the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) has charged late fees for books and materials that weren’t returned on time.
That will end on July 27, 2019 when the library holds a street festival celebrating its 150th anniversary.
“The decision to go fine free starting July 27th is all about access. Cleveland Public Library wants to remove barriers and connect people to knowledge and ideas, not stand in their way,” according to Tana K. Peckham, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for the CPL.
The library has been slowly getting rid of overdue fines for certain library users over the years.
“We eliminated overdue fines for seniors in 1977, for children’s materials in 1978, for disabled patrons in 1992, and for young adults and homebound patrons in 2001,” Peckham said. “So, for Cleveland Public Library, this is a natural, next step and a way to demonstrate our commitment to leveling opportunity for our community.”
I asked if the CPL is worried this announcement could send a message to users that it’s okay to keep materials and not ever return them.
“If there are items that are not returned, after a certain period of time, we consider those lost and there is a replacement fee charged," Peckam warned.
The CPL has been depending less and less on fines in its budget since the the amount collected has dropped drastically.
For example, in 2009 the CPL collected close to $200,00 in overdue fines, but in 2018 just $55,000.
“As you can tell by the numbers, the amount of fines we collected has steadily decreased over the years due to automatic renewals,” Peckham said. “Fine free is a natural next step for Cleveland Public Library and a way to demonstrate our commitment to leveling opportunity for our community. And, why not in 2019, our anniversary year?”