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Great news for the city’s bookworms! From today, NYC’s libraries will no longer charge late fines on overdue circulating materials — and all late fees and replacement fees owed to the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library will be waived.

Late fines are a thing of the past at New York Public Library. Photo: Renne Lutz Stanley

The move was announced yesterday by Tony Marx, NYPL President, who said, “Everyone gets a clean slate at the Library. This is a step towards a more equitable society, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we are proud to make it happen.”

He added, “During the pandemic, it was clearer than ever that we live in a Tale of Two Cities, with our most vulnerable citizens too often left behind. As New York grapples with these inequities, we must ensure that we are adhering to our mission of making knowledge and opportunity available to all—and that means addressing late fines.”

Previously, library cards were blocked if the holder accrued $15 in late charges. “The 10 NYPL branches with the most blocked cards are all in high-needs communities, and on average one in five cards at those locations are blocked,” revealed Marx. “This is even more pronounced amongst children and teens: 30% of blocked cards citywide belong to patrons under 18. This is a situation we can no longer accept.”

NYPL continues to innovate to get the city reading. During the pandemic they created “grab-and-go” book selections. Photo: Renne Lutz Stanley

He added, “The real ethical conundrum lies with pricing our most vulnerable citizens out of using a free, public library system.  It has taken time, thoughtful discussion, and careful analysis to take this important step towards a more equitable system. The time is now. We hope to see all New Yorkers at one of our branches soon.”

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