Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Adopts Fine Free Policy

Jerome Quentzel

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Mecklenburg, NC - Starting from July 1, 2021, library fines has been eliminated at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Eliminating library fines has been a popular move in recent years and adopted across many different cities.

While it is true that fines is one source of income for libraries, for many it only occupies a small portion of their income and they can still survive without it. Now that it is no longer collecting fines from customers, the library will receive funding from Mecklenburg County.

“Now that we’ve removed this economic barrier, we’re proud to truly provide equitable access to our services and collections for everyone,” said Marcellus “MT” Turner, CEO and chief librarian for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. “Restoring access to Library materials for all suspended cardholders, especially those most in need of Library resources, is critical to our mission of improving lives.”

Many people who can't afford to pay fines simply stop going to libraries. The fact that income in the U.S often relates to race, making many BIPOC kids lose access to books, computers, and comfortable places for them to study. The elimination of library fines translates into low-income people coming back to their local libraries. For instance, nearly half of the children and teens with blocked membership in New York were from branches in high-needs neighborhoods.

Columbus, Ohio, Salt Lake City, Baltimore, and San Francisco are among the major cities that have eliminated fines. During a six-week fine amnesty period, 700,000 books were returned to San Francisco Public Library and 5000 patrons had their membership restored. That said, eliminating fines really has a good impact for libraries and people alike.

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