The Queens Public Library is eliminating late fees forever.
The library announced that it, along with the New York and Brooklyn public libraries, has cleared all prior late fines so that cardholders can have unrestricted, open access to knowledge and opportunity.
The clearing of all existing late fines will immediately affect nearly 350,000 QPL accounts, about 25 percent of all system cardholders.
“For far too long, late fines have generated fear and anxiety among those who can least afford to pay, preventing them from opening library accounts, checking out books, or even coming through our doors,” QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott said in a statement. “Late fines tell people they do not belong, and that shutting them out is simply the cost of doing business. This is not only unacceptable, but also totally inconsistent with our mission.”
The QPL had suspended fines since March 2020 due to the pandemic.
A spokesperson told the Chronicle that the three systems collected about $3.2 million citywide in late fines revenue in fiscal year 2019, the last nonpandemic year. Approximately $940,000 of that total was from Queens cardholders.
Under the previous model with late fines, patrons would have their cards blocked if they accrued more than $15 in fines.
The QPL will be shifting to several fine-free policies:
• Customers will still need to pay replacement fees if they lose material. Materials are considered lost after being overdue for about one month. If materials are returned, however, no fees will apply.
• Cards will still be blocked from borrowing physical materials if patrons accrue $50 in replacement fees or have 20 or more overdue items. Even with a block on their cards, patrons can still access computers, e-books, and other digital services, however.
There will still be some fees, such as $2 fee to replace a lost card, a $25 bounced check fee and a $50 out-of-state registration fee.