People who are late returning books to the public libraries in Regina or Saskatoon will no longer be charged overdue fees starting in the new year.
The Regina and Saskatoon public libraries waived late fees when they were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and extended the initiative to the end of the year. Now they've taken even further steps.
As of Jan. 1, 2021, late fees for all borrowed materials will be gone for good. Both libraries issued news releases Wednesday that said the fees will make library services more accessible for all.
"We're looking to encourage more users to utilize library services," Sean Quinlan, chair of the Regina Public Library's board of directors, said.
"For some people, the late charge fee isn't much, but for a lot of people it is. So what we're trying to do is encourage ... people to read, and use the information that the library provides."
Fines disproportionately impacted children, newcomers or people with fixed or low incomes, Saskatoon Public Library said in its release, citing that nearly 20,000 members were suspended because they had racked up at least $10 in fines.
Saskatoon libraries serving neighbourhoods with lower-than-average incomes and more single-parent families have significantly higher rates of blocked patrons, the release added.
Although overdue fines will be no more, there will still be penalties for people who don't return materials within 30 days of their due date.
Anyone who does not returned borrowed materials within that time will be charged the cost of replacing the material, or could have their membership suspended until items are returned.
"We have a lot of people who place books on holds, and they're waiting to get those materials," Quinlan said.
Overdue fees made up about 0.4 per cent of the Regina and Saskatoon public libraries' respective annual budgets.
Cutting that revenue stream was worth it to the Regina Public Library if it means more people use its services, Quinlan said.