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Vancouver libraries to temporarily forgive fines as part of awareness campaign

Last Updated Jun 10, 2021 at 9:10 pm PDT

FILE - A Vancouver Public Library card. (Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Vancouver Public Library says over 70,000 patrons affected by fines; fines disproportionately impact lower-income users

Borrowing privileges are suspended for a user who reaches $10 in fines

From June 14-27, VPL will be forgiving fines, reactivating access

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you have an outstanding Vancouver Public Library fine and can’t borrow any books or other materials, the VPL has some good news for you.

Between June 14 and 27, Vancouverites can contact their VPL branches to have their fines forgiven. The two-week campaign is aimed at welcoming people back and re-engaging library users with blocked access.

“Whether it’s accessing educational resources, building literacy skills or getting lost in a book, library services should be accessible to everyone,” said chief librarian and CEO Christina de Castell.

“All too often we hear stories from people who have stopped using the library – sometimes for years – because of a simple error, like not returning a book on time. It’s often those most in need of library services that stop visiting us altogether. By forgiving fines, we hope to let these patrons know that we want them to come back and benefit from all the library has to offer.”

Borrowing privileges are suspended for a user who reaches $10 in fines.

According to the VPL, there are over 70,000 patrons affected by fines. One in 10 have lost their ability to borrow materials as a result of these fines.

Social, economic impacts of library fines

The VPL notes fines disproportionately impact lower-income users, as well as those who are facing economic and social barriers. The library says 30 per cent of currently blocked cardholders live in the Strathcona, Grandview/Woodland, downtown, and Mount Pleasant areas — Vancouver’s lowest income neighbourhoods.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an economic challenge for citizens. In times like these, people have an even greater need to access to the resources and community services that the library offers,” de Castell added. “Over the next two weeks, anyone with charges of any kind on their account can have their fines waived. It really couldn’t be easier – just call, click or come in to your local branch.”

Vancouver City Council is providing funding to help with the two-week campaign.

With support for a fine-free model strong among the Vancouver community, the VPL says it’s looking at different ways to move toward waiving fines for good.

“In other jurisdictions, moving to a fine free model has enhanced goodwill, improved return rates, increased circulation, and encouraged the continuous return of users to the library,” the VPL says.

You can call 604.331.3670 or your local VPL branch to have your fines waived between June 14 and 27. You can also go online to do so, or drop by a branch in person.