Newton Free Library drops late fees

Library late fees are so 2023.

In Newton, anyway.

The Newton Free Library has announced that effective Jan. 2, they will no longer charge fines for late returns or renewals.

The library joins a nationwide trend over the past several years to eliminate such fees. More than 80 percent of libraries in Massachusetts have gone fee-free already.

“Research shows that overdue fines are not effective in encouraging the return of library materials,” the library posted on its website. “Libraries are for everyone – and this change ensures that everyone in our community has access to library books and materials, regardless of their circumstances. Instead, fines can easily become a barrier to using the library.”

The move is aimed at creating more equity among library users. Audiobooks and e-books have no late fees, for example, so borrowers without digital tools needed for audiobooks and e-books are at a disadvantage.

The move also streamlines things a bit. The library stopped charging late fees for children’s books in 2021.

The library is still sending late notices, and after a certain amount of time, the library will send out a bill with a final notice, requesting the borrower pay to replace the item.

“Due dates still apply, and borrowers owe it to other library users to bring materials back in a timely manner. Borrowing privileges maybe suspended once a patron has a billed item in their account,” the announcement concludes.