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Library system eliminates youth fines

April 15, 2019
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Grand Rapids Public Library children's books
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The Grand Rapids Public Library has eliminated all fines on youth materials.

Fees will no longer accumulate for patrons who fail to return children’s/teen materials, and old fines on those materials have been rescinded, according to GRPL last week.

“Our goal is to emphasize the return of library material rather than penalizing our youngest patrons,” said John McNaughton, director, GRPL. “Using the library should not be a source of stress for families. Life gets complicated. Take an extra day or two if needed. We will still be here for you.”

The new policy frees up 5,175 library accounts that are blocked because of overdue fines on children’s/teen materials.

Library patrons will still be responsible for the replacement cost of youth items that are lost or damaged.

“The decision to eliminate fines on youth material is about equity and access,” McNaughton said. “We know that 75 percent of Grand Rapids Public Schools third-graders are not proficient in reading. This is a community problem that we can help solve. By removing a large barrier to using the library, we can get books in homes and help to develop a daily reading habit.”

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said the decision is “great news for families in our city.”

“It’s important that we remove barriers to ensure our children are reaching their potential and that this is a great place for everyone,” Bliss said.

The revenue from youth fines is “less than one half of a percent” of GRPL's annual budget.

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