Has an overdue book got you library shy?

Well, you can stop hiding from the book police because the Toronto Public Library system has gone fine-free. Not only that, 30 more libraries in Toronto will open again in February and March. You can stop by in person, take out books, use their services and no one will try and shake you down for a dollar, loonie, euro, pound; shilling or pence.

The Toronto Public Library is eliminating late fines on overdue books for youths and adults — for everyone. This will remove barriers and open doors to library access for many people, especially those who need it the most. 

They say, “For some, library fines are nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but for others the burden can drive them away from the library for good, preventing them from taking out library materials or using branch computers.” 

Libraries in Toronto are encouraging people to return items promptly to reduce the wait time for others waiting for the same books and other material. However, if you are unable to return your items to the drop boxes by the due date, you will not be charged a fine for them. 

Toronto has the world’s busiest urban public library system. They get over 46 million visits each year through their branches and online visits. 

Services differ from branch to branch, but did you know that the Toronto Public Library has art exhibits, book signings, author interviews and digital innovation hubs with 3D printers and recording studios?

Less than a week ago, when stricter provincial capacity limits were in place due to COVID and people needed to print their vaccine passports that allowed them to enter certain businesses or public events, they were able to print their proof of vaccination passports from home and pick up the hard copy at a local library for free. The regular printing fees were waived.

These days, Toronto libraries are letting you use the wifi from outside the building. Drop boxes mean that you don’t have to go inside to return a book. Digital and audio books are checked in and out online.

There are readings for children, graphic design software courses, meeting rooms, computer access, museum and art passes, book launches and book clubs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as they say, which makes it obvious why libraries are important resources in our communities. They give us access to the world.

Many Toronto Public Library branches are closed due to “staffing challenges” and others are running at limited capacity due to COVID. As of the last day of February, 10 Toronto branches will open under the new COVID-related provincial guidelines. On the first day of March, 20 more will open including City Hall, Guildwood, Humber Bay, and Long Branch sites. Libraries are now hiring for a number of positions they’ve posted to LinkedIn.

Sixteen Toronto Public Library branches will stay closed for now, including Davenport, Fort York, Gerrard/Ashdale, Rexdale, St. Clair/Silverthorn, and Swansea Memorial locations.

Along with funds from the city, donations allowed the library network to go fine-free for kids. The Toronto Public Library Foundation raised funds through the Friends of Toronto Public Library, South Chapter, and the Haynes-Connell Foundation about a year ago. Toronto City Council also approved additional funding that allows the Toronto Public Library to eliminate fines for everyone.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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