Houston Public Library is now a “Fine Free” system for cardholders

Houston (KIAH) – The Houston Public Library will no longer charge fines for expired books and other loan items.

The measure was supported by both Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council, according to a city press release. This change takes effect on January 11, 2023.

“A great free library system levels the playing field and encourages Houstonians to become regular users of our Houston Public Library,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

To give all customers the opportunity to clear their accounts of owed funds, HPL has set an amnesty period from January 17 to February 18, 2023. During the amnesty period, library users are encouraged to visit an HPL branch to return expired items and check their account status for fees that may have been incurred for lost or damaged items.

Studies of libraries that have become free have found a higher rate of return on borrowed materials, as well as an influx of users returning to the library after the barrier of late fees has been removed. Under the former penalty policy, approximately 25% of HPL account holders had to pay penalties, and 70% of those penalties accrued prior to 2015. The fines are so scary that they prevent clients from using library services. With this update as a permanent ordinance, many Houstonians, including those most in need of library services, will have access to the vast resources available, from books and audiobooks to mobile hotspots and Wi-Fi-enabled laptops.

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