Sioux Lookout Public Library eliminating fines for overdue materials
Tim Brody - Editor
As of December 1, late fines will be a thing of the past at the Sioux Lookout Public Library (SLPL).
Shawn Bethke, SLPL CEO, shared, “That’s a decision of the library board. They were very happy to bring that to the community and offer that to everyone. I have to thank the library board for following through on this. It’s a progressive decision. It’s been something that has been building within the library community for several years now. Some of your large public libraries, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, have moved in this direction recently and they’re pulling us along. We decided to try and be a leader within our field, particularly in Northwestern Ontario. Hopefully some libraries will follow our lead on that.”
He added, “We find, and the studies show, that most people are very happy to return their materials within the timeframe. Most late fines are accrued by people who just forgot. It wasn’t a willful decision on their part.”
Bethke added, “What we’ve seen in the library world is that a very small fine can lead to a patron never returning to the library, just in the fact that either they don’t feel that they should have to pay it, or they have anxiety about confronting the fact that they’ve done something that in their mind is wrong and they now have to pay for that… We want to reduce library anxiety for people. We want people to feel comfortable and happy to come in and use our materials, not feel like they’re going to be punitively damaged by something that goes on. We want our books to circulate, we want our DVDs to circulate, we want people to use them.”
The library is running a Food For Fines amnesty during the month of November.
“We’re going to give the month of November as a raising of awareness towards the fact that this is going to happen and at the same time run a Food For Fines campaign to help raise that awareness. So, you can clear off any accrued fines, no matter what the limit… you bring in a couple of cans of non-perishable food items and they’ll go to the food bank, and we’ll be happy to clear all your fines for you before December 1,” Bethke said.
He said the decision to eliminate fines has been met with positive feedback from library users.
Another initiative the library is planning is a show and tell night for adults.
“We’re putting a call out for anyone with interesting collections, curiosities, things that they would like to share with members of the community, to come on in and we’re going to have a night, hopefully in later November, where they can share their materials.”
People can stay up to date on Sioux Lookout Public Library happenings on their Facebook page.