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Thu Oct 31, 2019, 06:32 AM

Chicago Public Library permanently eliminating late fees [View all]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Library officials plan to eliminate overdue fines on all library items currently in circulation, making Chicago “the largest city, and largest public library system in the U.S., to join the growing movement of eliminating overdue fines,” the mayor’s office says.

At a press conference at the Woodson Regional Library in Washington Heights, Lightfoot said Chicago would now be a “fine free” library system, describing it as a “permanent change grounded in equity” that originated from Chicago Public Library employees.

The library has 1.1 million active cardholders—343,208 are currently locked out due to overdue fines. Officials are hoping to get hundreds of thousands active in the system again. A 2016 amnesty program brought 15,000 new and returning patrons and $800,000 worth of returned material back to the library. A 2012 amnesty brought more than 100,000 overdue items, including one book that was due in 1934."

"On the South Side, one in three card holders are blocked by fines. Compare that to the North Side, where only one in six are blocked by fines," Lightfoot said.The cost, she estimates, would be "budget neutral."

Lori's wife was a Chicago Public Library assistant commissioner.

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