RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Public Library ended all fines for overdue library materials as of Thursday.
In a news release, the city says the fines disproportionately affect low-income, African American and Hispanic communities, and they want to increase library use and accessibility for Richmond residents.
The Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved the move. More than 200 localities across the country have also eliminated overdue fines.
“Our library has removed a punitive, inefficient and misguided practice that was a barrier blocking our most vulnerable users,” said Richmond Public Library Director Scott Firestine. “This is a giant step forward to inform, enrich and empower.”
The elimination of overdue fines was recently endorsed by the largest professional association of librarians in the United States, the American Library Association (ALA). The body has adopted multiple resolutions encouraging libraries to eliminate fines.
“I was proud to advocate for this equitable change,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “A welcoming library is a key pillar of the community and provides a gateway to the world of learning and opportunity for personal progress. Ending fines is an accepted practice that won’t put pressure on our system and will alleviate the burden on our most vulnerable Richmonders.”
The library will still charge fees for lost or damaged books.