Effective January 11, the Houston Public Library will no longer charge late fees for overdue books or other library items.
In this digital age, when numerous cultural institutions have either folded or have been relegated to niche markets – looking at you, Blockbuster. Despite current trends, city libraries are still kicking, and we’re here for it.
That said, the Houston Public Library has lately experienced a dip in foot traffic. In order to usher in more Houston readers, the HPL has announced that it would no longer charge late fees for overdue books.
“A fine-free library system evens the playing field and incentivizes Houstonians to become lifelong users of our Houston Public Library,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The decision comes on the heels of libraries across the country making the same decision, one that in turn, ofter results in a higher rate of return and increased returning visitors according to studies.
“When you analyze the numbers, you see that young people account for more than 27% of users with fines, preventing them from accessing free resources and tools for learning. Simply put, this is the right thing to do,” said Turner.
For those that want a fresh start, the library will have an amnesty period between January 17 and February 18 where its staff will check their account and clear any prior fees.
“Late fines create a financial barrier for many people in accessing library materials and have been found to be an ineffective way of encouraging returns,” the library states on its website.
“Overdue fines had already been eliminated for children’s materials for students at Houston ISD, Alief ISD, and Pasadena ISD with the Learning Link initiative. Many public libraries in Texas and across the country are already fine free.”