FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham Library Trustees voted unanimously Monday night, May 9, to request the City’s Mayor eliminate fines for patrons at the Framingham Public Library.
The Trustees of the Framingham Public Library would like for Framingham to join public libraries in Worcester, Boston, Natick, Ashland, and the other 25 Minuteman Network Libraries in surrounding communities that have abandoned fines for overdue library materials.
The Trustees, who voted last night 12-0, sent a letter to City of Framingham Mayor Charlie Sisitsky asking him to support the measure.
The “Trustees of the Framingham Public Library voted for Framingham to join public libraries in Worcester, Boston, Natick, Ashland, and the other 25 Minuteman Network Libraries in surrounding communities that have abandoned fines for overdue library materials. Fines disproportionately affect patrons with limited means, and they keep some people from the library because of long overdue books,” said Framingham Library Trustees Chair Ruth Winett.
“During the pandemic when the FPL put fines on hold, patrons continued to reliably return materials,” said Trustee Chair Winett. “The Trustees are now waiting for a response from the Mayor about the proposed fine free policy.”
During the coronavirus pandemic the Framingham Public Library instituted a fine moratorium, said the Trustees.
“We found that patrons reliably returned their library materials nevertheless. Eliminating fines will free up staff to provide direct patron services instead of spending time processing fines and overdue materials.
Fines actually keep people away from the library either because of the size of their fines or the embarrassment of misplacing long overdue books,” wrote the Trustees to the Framingham Mayor.
“Moreover, fines are not a significant producer of revenue,” wrote the Trustees.
Fines collected in Framingham before COVID totaled about $26,000 per year, roughly $0.67 per library card holder per year, said the Trustees.
“Studies show that our library will not lose more materials if we eliminate fines,” wrote the Trustees to th Mayor.
“As in the past, we will continue to ask the small number of patrons who fail to return materials to replace the lost materials,” wrote the Trustees to Mayor Sisitsky.
“Fine collection policies run counter to our library’s mission of providing services at no cost for all citizens. Fines disproportionately affect poorer patrons. About 30% of Chicago’s poorer residents were barred from using the library because they had exceeded the $10 fine limit compared with 15% of more affluent Chicagoans who were barred from using the library,” wrote the Trustees to the Mayor.
Besides Chair Ruth Winett other members of the Trustees are Nancy Coville-Wallace, Jenny DeArcangelis, Annabel Dodd, Robert Dodd, Eric Doherty, Jan Harrington, Steven Malchman, Isabella Petroni, Leslie White Harvey, Heather Woods, and William Wray.
Editor’s Note: In full transparency, Trustee Petroni is the daughter of the SOURCE editor. The SOURCE publisher/editor is vice chair of the Framingham Public Library Foundation Board.