Mar 19, 2024 - Things to Do

New Orleans libraries drop late fees for good

Illustration of a book with the pages made of money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The New Orleans Public Library officially dropped its late fees last week.

Why it matters: The move permanently brings the library in line with a 2019 American Library Association resolution that said late fees get in the way of book borrowing.

Yes, but: You really should still return your books on time.

The big picture: The 2019 resolution came as libraries around the country found that fines disproportionately impacted low-income families and kids, NPR reported.

  • In Chicago, for example, library data showed that nearly a third of South Side residents weren't able to check anything out because they'd hit the $10 limit on late fees, and about 20% of all blocked borrowers were under 14.
  • The analyses prompted many local libraries to drop their fines even before the official resolution.

Between the lines: New Orleans libraries have been fine-free since 2020 in what was intended as a temporary move to help borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Library Board voted last week to make the change permanent.

Yes, but: The library will still charge fines for interlibrary loans at $1 per day.

Zoom out: The Jefferson Parish Library is still charging fines.

Go deeper: Free things you can do with a library card.

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