Public Library remains ‘late fine’ free

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

“The love of reading is a gift for life, and it has been a godsend during the pandemic for readers of all ages, but perhaps particularly for children,” writes Marsha Lederman in the Globe and Mail article, “How to Build a Bookworm”.

There’s no question that the pandemic has meant isolation for many children. We know that reading about other children can help reduce the feeling of loneliness. Many of us have had the experience of finding a friend in a book, and that can be the same for children. We want to make this possible for everyone and we work hard to reduce barriers whenever possible.

You may have heard that some children are fearful to use the library as they are afraid of late fees. Fortunately, this is not a factor in library use locally. The County of Prince Edward Public Library has been completely late fine-free for over a decade and has not charged late fees to children for at least twenty years. Recently, even large library systems including Toronto, Halifax and Ottawa are following suit in removing late fees.

When Edmonton Public Library removed fines, their mayor Don Iveson explained, “I want our libraries to be seen as a safe haven — a place where you’re guaranteed democratic access to information and are treated with dignity and respect regardless of your financial status. Removing late fees helps ensure that.”

At the County of Prince Edward Public Library, we know that one of the best ways to get children to pick up a book is to stock the titles they want to read. The library receives new books weekly, curated to appeal to young readers with help from the families who request new books they would like to read. If you have any comments about the library’s collection or specific requests, you can email me at liz@peclibrary.org. To request a bag full of library books, reach children’s librarian Whitney at wshantz@peclibrary.org or call any branch. You can request a surprise bag, and we’ll select titles for you, or ask for specific titles.

Children will also find a special letter from their local librarian tucked inside and are invited to write back! Young readers are invited to join the Impressive Reader Society. This Society welcomes everyone, from those just beginning their journey to experienced literary adventurers. Members receive a lawn sign and each month, the Most Impressive Reader is chosen. This might be the child who has read the most, or someone who has stretched to read something that challenges them, or something else Impressive. To register, call your local branch or visit peclibrary.org. New this month, we have an exciting monthly early literacy calendar which we include in every bag of library books, and make available online.

Featuring the five Every Child Ready to Read Early Literacy Practices of playing, singing, talking, reading, and writing, the calendar gives you some easy activities that anyone can do.

-Liz Zylstra