In announcing the new policy, the library said its board of trustees “is dedicated to creating a library that is more open, equitable and understanding of our community,” and explained that “eliminating fines for overdue materials means more people in our community have greater access to the Library’s vital materials, resources and services.”
“Every day is a day for learning. Chicagoans need and deserve access to information and technology every day of the week. Adding Sunday hours in libraries across the city is an important step in our commitment to equity and access,” said CPL Commissioner Chris Brown. “Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership and support for expanded Sunday hours has been instrumental in bringing this opportunity to all Chicagoans.”
“Equal and equitable access to information is a core value of libraries,” said Director of Libraries Eva Poole. “Removing overdue fines from youth accounts is a first step in removing economic barriers to accessing library materials, especially for children who may need us the most. Inability to pay fines may prevent families from returning materials or visiting the library at all. The goal is to get the materials back into our collection, and to encourage families to continue using the library.”
From picture books onwards, “home” as a predictable, stable and safe place is a central subject despite a significant percentage of people who experience homelessness. These experiences are not often written about and if they are, not positively reflected in literature. To create more equitable literacy learning environments, as well as providing a counterpoint to the negative images so often created, we need opportunities to explore economic diversity and to challenge harmful discourses about people experiencing homelessness.
With this in mind, the Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty Task Force of SRRT (HHPTF) is creating a booklist of recommended books for all ages, as well as a guide to help with selecting books that are respectful and supportive of people who are experiencing homelessness.
Sandy Berman is a retired librarian who started the “Committee for the Abolition of Library Fines.” He said he feels locking out a child from libraries due to an overdue book is contradictory to the mission of libraries.
“The San Francisco Public Library Commission has already recommended eliminating library fines, but on Thursday it voted to forgive existing fines as well.
The decision comes as the San Francisco Public Library is on the verge of a new fine-free chapter, after officially recognizing the punitive practice creates an ‘unfair barrier to access, which disproportionately impacts residents of lower socioeconomic status.'”