Springfield, MA – Mayor Domenic J. Sarno joined Springfield Library Assistant Director for Public Services Jean Canosa Albano and Springfield Library Commission Chair Steve Cary and Commission members to kick off the annual Summer Reading Club at the Brightwood Neighborhood Library Branch. In addition, the Springfield Library announced that effective immediately, overdue fines will no longer accrue on books and other circulating materials and past late fines will be eliminated entirely.
Mayor Sarno states, “I am proud to join with our dedicated Library team and Library Commissioners as we kick off the annual summer reading club at the Brightwood Neighborhood Library Branch. I want to thank Library Director Molly Fogarty, Assistant Director Jean Canosa Albano, Library Commission Chair Steve Cary and Commission members and our dedicated city team for their efforts in making this family friendly and annual summer reading program such a tremendous success for our residents, especially our children. I am proud to support the Library Commissions efforts to enhance the opportunities for our residents, again, especially our children, to participate and enjoy our beautiful library system at one of our many neighborhood library branches. By eliminating the late fee fines we can encourage everyone to have an opportunity to access the tremendous resources our world class libraries offer.”
The decision to go fine free was made in an effort to eliminate barriers to access and ensure that all Springfield residents have free, equitable, and open access to knowledge and opportunity. It comes as the Springfield Library is welcoming back all children, teens, and adults who want to come back into the buildings to join the Summer Reading Club. The Springfield City Library is joining other library systems across the country, and is proud to be amongst these pioneers in practices that not only have eliminated fines but also barriers for its community members.
Diane Houle, Manager of Adult and Youth Information Services says, “Going fine free really empowers children to fully participate in summer reading club. Nothing is more important in making kids lifelong readers than the ability to choose what they want to read, and being able to borrow those materials and bring them home. It’s really a hurdle against participation when kids want to take books, but they can’t because their card is blocked. By going fine free, we are telling our community that we are eager to have them back; and that we want to take down the barriers that might be keeping them from making use of Springfield City Library and all of the valuable resources we can offer to them.”
Going fine free does not mean that library items do not need to be returned. Lost or damaged items will still incur a fee. However, going fine free allows for patrons to get materials back in a timeframe that might work better for their schedule or ability to get to a local branch.
Manager of Borrowers’ Services, Zach Bartlett, says “Patrons will still be charged the replacement cost if an item goes missing for more than four weeks, but they won’t receive a daily fine if they don’t return something on time. This means patrons won’t be penalized if they were too busy to make it to a branch for a few days, or if their kids just hid some books under the couch cushions. It’s another step in making the library more accessible to people in the modern world.”
In line with the Springfield City Library’s mission of actively providing effective resources and a safe space for all, Library Commission Chair Steve Cary stated that “eliminating fines reinforces the Library’s values of being a welcoming, trusted, connected, and innovative staple within its city. The Library hopes to see more patrons coming back to the buildings and borrowing even more material in the very near future.”
Founded in 1857, the Springfield City Library provides nearly 5000 educational and recreational programs per year. To learn more, visit www.springfieldlibrary.org.