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West Van library removes late fees, joins others across the North Shore

WVML library card holders who were blocked for having over $20 in late fees are now able to borrow again.
Late fees for library materials have been axed at West Vancouver Memorial Library, as it comes into line with other libraries across the North Shore.

Have some library books hiding in your bookshelf you’ve been too embarrassed to return, after realizing they’re well past due?

Now might be a good chance to drop them back off, as the West Vancouver Memorial Library has gotten rid of its daily late fees for library materials, which started at the beginning of this week (May 2).

According to the library, 1,486 library card holders are currently blocked from borrowing due to outstanding fines. Late fines create a barrier to accessing the library, the service said.

“Eliminating late fees reduces financial stress and will increase the circulation rate,” Monica Mao, public service assistant, said. “Patrons will not have to worry about not being able to return books and paying huge fines in many circumstances. Removing late fees will be beneficial to the community.”

Removing late fees won’t cause longer delays in hold times or a lower return rate, the library said, and pointed to the other municipal libraries across the North Shore which have already removed their late fees.

“When WVML removed late fees from youth materials in 2015 and large print materials in 2017, there was no drop in circulation or return rates,” the library said.

Removing the fees also won’t have a big impact on the library’s bottom line, as revenues from late fees have been declining anyhow, according to the library, which noted that the fees only made up 1% of the library’s funding budget in 2019.

However, the library will still be charging $1 for holds that are not picked up, and materials that are lost or damaged will be charged for a replacement fee, similar to the District of North Vancouver where after 28 days, a material is considered lost. Items borrowed from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan will still be subject to late fees.

As of May 3, library card holders who have been blocked for having over $20 in late fees have since been unblocked from borrowing from the library.

Charlie Carey is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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