HALIFAX -- Halifax Public Libraries have officially gone ‘fine-free’, removing overdue fines effective immediately.

All existing fines have been forgiven, and anyone who was blocked from borrowing due to fines can begin borrowing again immediately.

The Library board unanimously approved the change, citing that equitable access to information and technology is more important than ever.

“Our community and staff both identified library fines as a source of anxiety and hardship.” said Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian and CEO of Halifax Public Libraries. “Public libraries and our collections of books and materials belong to the community and we trust the community to care for them and return them when they’re done. We want everyone in HRM to use their Library throughout their lifetime without worry of fines.”

In a release, the Library says that hundreds of North American libraries have gone fine-free over the past years, and have seen an increase in people using the library. 

“Fine revenue makes up less than 1% of the Library’s budget, having steadily decreased over the last 5 years. This reduction in revenue will be absorbed into the existing Library operating budget, just as in the past several years,” says Marika Warren, Chair of the Board Audit and Finance Committee. “As a Board we’ve put the community at the centre of our strategic plan. Our responsibility is to make sure that every resident has equitable access to everything the Library offers. Fines are a barrier that disproportionately affects lower income residents. Overdue fines do not encourage people to return materials; they act as a roadblock to many individuals and families who would benefit the most from lifelong engagement with the Library.”

Halifax Public Libraries’ borrowing periods remain the same, and users will continue to be charged a replacement fee for materials if they are not returned within 30 days of their due date.

“We have great trust in our community” says Kachan. “Our community members take great care in sharing library spaces and the library collection, and we don’t expect that to change. The change we expect to see, is a less stressful and more equitable library experience for everyone.”

Library borrowers can expect to see the fines removed from their account by the end of day August 5.