Libraries Doing Away with Late Fees


There is a move afoot to get rid of those overdue fees at public libraries.

“There has been a movement recently for some library systems to completely do away with fines,” says Roberto Zapata, District Manager for Houston Public Libraries. They were giving libraries a bad name, and in the digital revolution, as they redefine their role, libraries are looking for ways to encourage patronage rather than discourage it. “After we closed down for the pandemic we suspended all fines and fees,” Zapata adds.

Instead, the focus has been a total pivot from providing services as the neighborhood library down the road to an online service for anyone as the Houston Public Libraries remain closed to the public, though curbside service is available by appointment.

And it’s an impressive array of services they offer. You can go the upper left side of the landing page to their website and register for a MY LINK card that opens a world of possibilities, including access to best sellers and classics. “Check out e-books, check out e-audio books. We even have a resource that offers free streaming music. We have a resource that offers free streaming movies,” says Zapata. The cards are free for Texas residents.

Special emphasis is placed on offerings for school aged children in addition to reading material. Free homework help is available for kids already learning online 24/7. Virtual story times with animation are available, STEM programs, and a wealth of knowledge.

As Houston experiences a cold snap that has sent residents burrowing into their homes for a couple days, this might be the perfect time to curl up with a good audio book, or better yet, catch up on that classic novel that you’ve always wanted to read. No late fees!

photo: Getty Images


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