PHILADELPHIA, PA – Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (9th District) today introduced a resolution calling for a hearing to explore eliminating fines at the Free Library of Philadelphia and wiping away patrons’ outstanding debt.
Research by the American Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council suggests eliminating overdue fees should increase overall book return rates and circulation rates, meaning more books in the hands of more people. Also, on Sept. 30, Chicago became the largest city in the U.S. to stop fining people for overdue books and absolving patrons of outstanding debt, joining a list of more than 200 municipalities across the country to do so.
“Our goal as a city is to ensure that as many residents as possible can access our library system to conduct research, further their education and increase overall literacy,” Parker said. “In light of the growing body of research that indicates that fines are a barrier to access for low-income residents and that eliminating them should increase return rates and circulation rates, we should explore whether Philadelphia would benefit from such a change.”
The Free Library only collects about $400,000 annually from fines, less than 1 percent of its total budget.
“I look forward to working with the Free Library of Philadelphia to examine this issue,” Parker added.
Parker also introduced a resolution Thursday recognizing and congratulating world-renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez on receiving the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award, which celebrates literature that explores issues of race and diversity.
Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker represents the 9th District, which includes East Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Lawncrest, Burholme, Olney, Oxford Circle and Logan. She is Chair of Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service and Vice Chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.