PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At least one member of Philadelphia City Council wants to get rid of library late fees. The Free Library of Philadelphia collects about $400,000 in late fees per year, which accounts for nearly $46 million of the library’s budget.
“Those fines are regressive financial penalties that disproportionately impact people and communities who can least afford to pay them,” City Councilmember Cherelle Parker said.
Library fees may not seem very expensive, but when each dollar counts toward feeding your children, those fines can add up and keep readers away from the library.
Parker wants to do away with the late fees.
“We should be doing everything that we can in the City of Philadelphia to increase literacy, to close the digital divide and encourage use of the large amount of resources at our hand by our free library system,” Parker said.
Philadelphia residents who frequent the library welcome the possible change.
“Anything that will attract more of the citizens, more people to the library in one way, shape or form I think is a very good idea,” Stephen Mullin said.
“It would encourage more people to utilize the library,” Tomika Anglin said. “There are a lot of new programs and offerings that the library has so it’s always good to have the library available to everyone — not just those who can afford to use it.”
The Free Library of Philadelphia sent CBS3 a statement, reading in part, “The Free Library of Philadelphia has been studying the impact of a fine-free system for the past year, taking many factors into consideration, including the successful introduction of a fine-free children’s library card in 2013.”
That’s news Parker is excited to hear.
“I’m looking forward to having a very intense and robust conversation about this issue,” Parker said.
Philadelphia would be the second major city to eliminate late fees behind Chicago.
The date for the hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet.