Councilman wants Philly library to continue charging kids for overdue books

A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to keep collecting library late fines from children — even though the library wants to eliminate those fines. 

Free Library of Philadelphia officials told City Council during budget hearings they would stop charging fines when children don’t bring their books back on time beginning July 1.

Councilman David Oh has introduced a bill to put a hold on that decision.

“What the bill does is basically allow the libraries to continue to collect the late fees, put it in a separate account of the library to be used by the library branches, so it is possible for us to provide it to the Friends of the Free Library for them to use it,” Oh said.

Oh says the fines could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars — money he says the libraries need.

“Nobody has complained about the fines on late books,” he said. “Many parents, myself included, use the late fines as a way of teaching our children about responsibility. I don’t think this is money we should deny to the libraries.”

The loss actually would come to about $70,000 a year, said Joe McPeak, library chief operating officer. He said library officials feel getting more children into the library would is more valuable than the fines.

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