Brampton library implements fine-free books for children


When people think of public libraries, they often also think of the word "obsolete.” 

Susan Bartoletta, Director, Branch and Neighbourhood Services of Brampton Library, says that she is used to comments about libraries being "obsolete" because most people nowadays have access to the internet.

"We are used to hearing comments about libraries becoming obsolete," she said, adding that those comments are simply just misconceptions.

"I like to respond about the relevance of the public library in light of the rise of the internet by saying, 'Librarians are the original search engine," and ‘Sure, everything is online, but are you finding what you need? Friendly Library staff is here to help,'" she said.

Unfortunately, when people also think of public libraries, they often associate that thought with book fines, which is why the Brampton Library wants to eliminate fines altogether for children.

As a public library, they are committed to growing their relevance by reflecting their offerings and assessing how they are responding to the needs of their community, which is why the Brampton Library wants to eliminate fines altogether for children and also why they’ve implemented a new initiative for children so they don’t get fined for returning many of their items late.

Although newer releases and certain items are an exception, the purpose of this initiative is to encourage more children to get library cards without the fear of fines or repercussions. 

"Our objective in going fine free for children's materials is to remove barriers to access and allow us to better serve our entire community, regardless of socio-economic standing," said Bartoletta. 

"Barriers exist for some populations to pay fines. By removing this barrier we are making a positive step toward inclusiveness. Brampton Library wants every child to have their own card, to be empowered to access books, music, information and technology needed to support discovery and learning," she added.

The stigma that revolves around book fines is a major factor that deters people from accessing information from public libraries. This is a reason why the city of Brampton removed fines on many children's materials last year.

"This positive move sends an important message to the community: come in and enjoy the free materials and services that we have to offer. If you need a few extra days to return them, that's okay," she said.

 "By eliminating fines on most children's materials, we are able to reduce barriers to access and increase borrowing power for our youngest customers," she said.

This is a change that many libraries across North America are making to help end the stigma and provide accessibility to information to people who need and benefit from libraries the most.

According to a report from Brampton's library board from May 2018, 30,000 members' cards were blocked due to the fact that they owed over $25 in charges. Among these, 2,200 were under the age of 12.

This report also stated that fear or worry of obtaining fines also deterred parents from allowing their children to have library cards due to the stress of possibly racking up multiple fines. 

"A library card is the key that unlocks a world of opportunity. It provides access to a wide range of resources, services and programs that encourage exploration, learning, creativity and growth, at any age," said Bartoletta.

"For children, in particular, having their own card and being able to choose their own materials gives them pride of ownership. The excitement on their faces when handed a new card is priceless!"

Residents of Brampton interested in learning more are invited to attend the grand opening of their new South West Branch at 8405 Financial Drive in Brampton on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

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