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Sault Ste. Marie Public Library
Sault Ste. Marie Public Library goes Fines Free during its 125th Anniversary
Posted: Apr 06, 2021

The Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Board is happy to announce that as of August 31, 2021 the Library will be officially fines free. Your local library is joining the ranks of hundreds of libraries across Canada and the United States of America that have been eliminating overdue fines. This conspicuous date also marks the Library’s 125th Anniversary. Established in 1896 in what was then the Town of Sault Ste. Marie, the Library is one of the oldest institutions in our city.  

At its meeting on Monday March 29, 2021, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Board passed the following motion:

Whereas the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Board fully endorses the Canadian Federation of Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries, including but not limited to libraries having the mandate to provide, defend and promote equitable access; 
And
Whereas recent research has uncovered that Library overdue fines disproportionately affect vulnerable users, including low-income residents, as well as marginalized and minority populations;

Be it Resolved that the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Board become officially Fines Free, effective August 31, 2021 with limited exceptions. 

Overdue fines have been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. This summer will mark the end of them for our community. In addition to eliminating fines for overdue materials moving forward, the Library will also be forgiving all outstanding fines dating back as far as 2011.  

There are a few exceptions to the Library’s Fines Free procedures. Fines will still be incurred for interlibrary loans (loans from other Ontario libraries), the Express Reads collection, and on some special collections such as Parks Passes and Radon Kits. Patrons will still be responsible for other fees including fees for lost or damaged materials. 

Research has shown that fines do not improve the returns rate of materials and, as an unintended consequence, disproportionately affect vulnerable users of the libraries, including low-income residents and families with children. Studies have also shown that patrons are willing to borrow more materials when there is no punitive action taken when items are returned late. It is the Library Board’s hope that the elimination of fines for nearly all of the Library’s materials will encourage many former borrowers to return and new members to join. 

The Library will be overhauling its notice system to provide long overdue and lost material notices more expediently. The long overdue period is being reduced from 60 days to 28 days and the Lost: Long overdue period will be reduced from 120 days to 90 days. Automatic renewals will also be activated extending patron’s borrowing periods so long as the materials do not have any reserve holds on them. Library materials can be renewed up to five (5) times.   

Fines represents only 0.4% of Library’s annual revenue. Eliminating them is a small price to pay to remove barriers in our community and is in the spirit of making the Library free for all. Please join us in celebrating the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library’s 125th Anniversary as we engage in this and many other exciting initiatives this year.  

During the current lockdown, the Library is open for curbside services only. For more information about the library and its services, please visit www.ssmpl.ca  

Wayne Greco                                                           Matthew MacDonald
Board Chair                                                             Chief Executive Officer
Sault Ste. Marie Public Library                              Sault Ste. Marie Public Library