Fee & Fine Free in 2023!

Jan. 15, 2023

Cochrane Public Library Eliminates Card Fees and Overdue Fines

Cochrane, AB, January 10, 2023 – Cochrane Public Library (CPL) has eliminated all card fees and late fees for library materials effective immediately.

The motion was passed by CPL’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. This new fee and fine free model will significantly reduce barriers to accessing CPL’s resources and services and reflects the Library’s dedication to equitable service for all.

The practice of charging Library card fees is in decline – as of April 2022, 59% of all public libraries in Alberta did not charge card fees as they have been found to disproportionately impact lower income households.

“Our vision is to inspire a journey of discovery, learning, and connections and this decision helps make that vision a reality,” said Monique Fiedler-Sills, Library Director of CPL. “The Library belongs to the community and we want to invite everyone to take part in our programs, services, and collections, regardless of financial status.”

As for overdue fines, libraries across North America have moved to a fine free model. A 2019 survey of nine library systems that eliminated fines found that none had experienced an increase in late returns or longer wait times. In fact, it generally resulted in patrons borrowing more items and, in some cases, an increase in overdue materials being returned.

At the Library, once late fees total $10.00, an account is blocked and a patron can no longer borrow materials. Of all blocked accounts at CPL, 25% belong to children. “Developing early literacy skills is foundational to future success,” says Fiedler-Sills. “Generally families borrow more than the average patron and overdue fines add up quickly. Our goal is to support children’s literacy development – not punish families who regularly access the Library to instill a love of reading in their children.”

While fees and fines only accounted for 6.9% of the Library’s total operating revenue, Board Chair, Cyndie Baum credits the move to increased community donations and the annual operating funds from the Town of Cochrane. “We could not be more thrilled about this milestone and it was made possible through the support of the community, as well as Town of Cochrane Administration and Council. While this budget was a tough one, our community and Council truly value the Library and through their support, demonstrate that children’s literacy and barrier-free access to reading, is essential,” says Baum.

The Library would like to invite the community to mark this achievement on Family Literacy Day, taking place on Saturday, January 28. “We have literacy activities, a local author talk, puppet show, cake – come celebrate with us!” said Fiedler-Sills.

For more information, please contact Monique Fiedler-Sills at monique.fiedler-sills@cochranepubliclibrary.ca or 403-808-7859.