News and Events

News and Events at NewToBC

Library and Settlement News

A year after Vancouver Public Library eliminated fines, here’s how many books are now overdue

Posted on: September 7, 2023

By Vancouver Sun |

A year after granting amnesty to patrons who didn’t return borrowed items on time, the Vancouver Public Library reports a slight increase in the number of book-hoarding scofflaws.

Although waiving late fees represents hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue, library officials say this story is not a tragedy, but one with a happy ending.

The VPL scrapped overdue fines starting in June 2022, as a measure to “reduce barriers to library service and increase equity.”

The library said this week that it currently has about 47,000 items identified as overdue or lost, about 18 per cent of the 269,000 items checked out, a slight increase from the 15 per cent overdue or lost items recorded in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic. The VPL has about 2.3 million items in its collection.

“The impact on our bottom line has been negligible from a financial perspective,” the VPL’s manager of marketing and communications Scott Fraser wrote in an emailed statement. The lost revenue from overdue fines represents about one per cent of the VPL’s total budget of $59 million.

“From a social benefit perspective, the impact has been very positive. We have received many positive comments from patrons who now feel more welcome to use the library and express gratitude for the fine-free service.”

Read more