We’ve all been there: suddenly finding a library book that was definitely due more than a week ago, and being too afraid of the late fee to get up and go deal with it. You probably didn’t even finish reading it, right? And if you take it back, you probably never will. Wouldn’t that be a shame? Better just to hold onto it a while longer, and budget for that fee next month.
But the truth is, you probably won’t ever finish it or return it. Because everytime you look at it, it will just remind you of the disorganized mess that you’ve been fighting (and losing to) for the better half of your life.
Don’t worry…you’re not alone.
Far too many books never make their way back to the shelves of libraries thanks to the late fees their readers are afraid to face. And the end result hasn’t helped anyone: the libraries have less books, and no late fee income collected to replace them. And the Chicago library has finally decided that the late fee solution is no solution at all. Instead, they simply canceled their late fees, hoping to get some of their cherished favorites back. And the results blew their minds.
Since the city’s 81 local libraries implemented the new policy on October 1st, book returns have skyrocketed – increasing by 240%.
When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was approached with this proposal, she concluded that going ahead with it for at least the short-term future would encourage literacy, and provide educational resource aid to those from low-income communities. During a budget meeting last month, Library Commissioner Andrea Telli emphasized the policy’s success to her fellow City Council members, encouraging them to take similar actions. As much as many people prefer to point a finger at the laziness or negligence of book borrowers, these numbers make it impossible to deny a direct correlation between missing or late books and the fees that weigh their readers down. There may be better solutions out there, but this experimental solution marks a clear step in the right direction for resolving issues like this in the future.