Providence Public Library Goes Fine Free for Children and Teen Materials

October 5, 2018

Over a third of PPL’s 1,500 young patrons have fines above the $5 limit; with this new fine-free policy, library cardholders will no longer be subject to fines on these materials

PROVIDENCE, RI – Joining the growing trend to remove barriers for young people to use the Library, Providence Public Library (PPL) has gone “fine free” on all of its children and teen materials.  “We know that overdue fines have the greatest impact on the communities that can least afford barriers to accessing library resources,” said Jack Martin, PPL Executive Director.  “We want young people and their families to know that they are welcome and can come to the Library and take out library materials meant for them without fear of restrictive penalties.”

Along with this change, PPL is also eliminating $19,000 in overdue fines and charges on youth materials in its collections, removing a serious deterrent for children and teens who have accrued fines that effectively prevent them from borrowing materials and, in some cases, make them reluctant to even come to the Library.  Approximately 1,500 youth have library accounts at PPL and just over a third have fines above the $5 limit set by the statewide system of public libraries.

Across the country, many public and school library systems have gone fine free on teen and children materials. The financial impact to libraries is reported to be largely neutral, while the benefits of greater use and improved relationships have been significant.  For young people, there can be considerable anxiety associated with overdue fines.  Removing that anxiety promotes library use and supports literacy and learning at the earliest age.

Since 2015, PPL, along with Providence Community Library and Cranston Public Library, has taken up President Obama’s Library Card Challenge, the goal of which is to ensure that every school student has access to public library resources.  In creating cards for school classes, it became apparent that overdue fines constitute a significant barrier for students.  Removing overdue fines on children’s and teen items continues and furthers this nationwide effort.

PPL is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1875, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily through private funding sources, including its own PPL Foundation.  PPL provides services and resources to more than 152,000 visitors annually.  The Library also serves as the Statewide Reference Resource Center holding unique collections and resources.