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East Gwillimbury library goes fine free for good
March 11, 2022

The days of worrying about pesky fines for overdue loans at the East Gwillimbury Public Library are over.

The EGPL was one of many libraries that decided to waive late fees during the pandemic. The move was so well received, they’ve decided to close the chapter on fines -- permanently.

EGPL CEO Monika Machacek said the fine free model is more equitable to all library users. People who have e-readers aren’t a risk of getting fines as the product is automatically returned, Machacek said. “It was perpetuating inequality of access to vital learning supports,” she said.

It wasn’t like the fines were a large revenue source either. Machacek said it only amounted to about $9,000 annually.  In the absence of fines, the library has set up donation boxes at its branches for those who are able to donate.

The late fee model, which has existed for decades in libraries, doesn’t make sense anymore, Machacek said, especially since other libraries in places like Aurora, Vaughan, Georgina and Newmarket have adopted similar policies.

You would think the library has seen an uptick on items not being returned on time, but Machacek said only about one per cent of items are returned late even without fines.

“It wasn’t as much of a deterrent as people thought,” she said.