The Chicago Public Library system is getting rid of late fees in a move meant to make access to libraries more equitable, making it the largest public library system in the country to do so. Under the new policy, a checked-out item with no holds on it will automatically be renewed up to 15 times before it’s marked lost. If that happens, the borrower will be charged market value unless they return the item.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement that the new policy will end what she called a regressive practice, quote, “disproportionately impacting those who can least afford it.” The Urban Libraries Council’s communications director said the issue isn’t about responsibility, stating, “Overdue fines are not distinguishing between people who are responsible and who are not. They’re distinguishing between people who can and cannot use money to overcome a common oversight.”