SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Library has indicated that there will be an elimination of late fees on books and other circulating materials as well as all past late fines entirely. This announcement was made as the Library kicked off its annual Summer Reading Club.

At the Brightwood Neighborhood Library Branch, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno was joined by Springfield Library Assistant Director for Public Services Jean Canosa Albano, Springfield Library Commission Chair Steve Cary, and Springfield Library Commission members to kick off the annual Summer Reading Club.

Mayor Sarno states, “I am proud to join with our dedicated Library team and Library Commissioners as we kick off the annual summer reading club at the Brightwood Neighborhood Library Branch. I want to thank Library Director Molly Fogarty, Assistant Director Jean Canosa Albano, Library Commission Chair Steve Cary and Commission members and our dedicated city team for their efforts in making this family friendly and annual summer reading program such a tremendous success for our residents, especially our children. I am proud to support the Library Commissions efforts to enhance the opportunities for our residents, again, especially our children, to participate and enjoy our beautiful library system at one of our many neighborhood library branches. By eliminating the late fee fines we can encourage everyone to have an opportunity to access the tremendous resources our world class libraries offer.”

As a result of the decision to go fine-free, Springfield residents now have free, equitable, and open access to knowledge and opportunities. Summer Reading Club begins just in time to welcome all children, teens, and adults to the buildings. Springfield City Library joins other library systems across the country as a pioneer in practices that not only eliminate fines but also create barriers for its community members.

“This is a long time coming, and is just the right thing to do for greater equity of access, taking away some of those barriers so that people don’t have to worry about owing money getting in the way of accessing everything that’s available to them at the library,” said Jean Canosa-Albano, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Springfield City Library.

Diane Houle, Manager of Adult and Youth Information Services says, “Going fine free really empowers children to fully participate in summer reading club. Nothing is more important in making kids lifelong readers than the ability to choose what they want to read, and being able to borrow those materials and bring them home. It’s really a hurdle against participation when kids want to take books, but they can’t because their card is blocked. By going fine-free, we are telling our community that we are eager to have them back; and that we want to take down the barriers that might be keeping them from making use of Springfield City Library and all of the valuable resources we can offer to them.”

Library items must be returned even if the fine is free. There will still be a fee for lost or damaged items. Going fine-free, however, also allows patrons to return materials in a timeframe that is more convenient for their schedule.

Manager of Borrowers’ Services, Zach Bartlett, says “Patrons will still be charged the replacement cost if an item goes missing for more than four weeks, but they won’t receive a daily fine if they don’t return something on time. This means patrons won’t be penalized if they were too busy to make it to a branch for a few days, or if their kids just hid some books under the couch cushions. It’s another step in making the library more accessible to people in the modern world.”

In line with the Springfield City Library’s mission of actively providing effective resources and a safe space for all, Library Commission Chair Steve Cary stated that “eliminating fines reinforces the Library’s values of being a welcoming, trusted, connected, and innovative staple within its city. The Library hopes to see more patrons coming back to the buildings and borrowing even more material in the very near future.”