Resolution to Waive Schenectady Library Late Fees

SCHENECTADY, ​​NY (NEWS10) — County legislatures passed a resolution on Thursday that would eliminate late fines from the Schenectady County Public Library (SCPL) system. Officials have asked the SCPL Board to consider this matter to adopt this policy at their next meeting on March 24.

Officials said global studies have shown that library cardholders are more likely to return their borrowed books and materials when late fines are not imposed. Currently, over 12,000 library cardholders have a fine balance of $5.00 or more in their SCPL account.

This represents approximately 26% of users’ access restrictions to library resources. Officials said that in fact, library cardholders cannot borrow materials or use computers, which can be a barrier to literacy.

In anticipation of the newly enacted policy, the legislator has considered plans for replacement costs in the event of loss of equipment by borrowers. In addition to officials said materials that have not been returned within a specified time after the due date.

The American Library Association (ALA) passed a resolution in 2018 that the practice of charging late fees does not serve the primary mission of a modern library and is discriminatory in nature. In 2019, the New York Library Association endorsed the ALA resolution.

“Removing financial barriers that disproportionately affect low-income households will encourage people to come back to the library,” said Schenectady County Legislator Sara Mae Pratt. “Libraries spread joy, provide useful information, create a sense of community and encourage a love of reading from an early age. It is not the role of the library to teach responsibility – the role of the library is to encourage lifelong learning, exploration and innovation.

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