PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – At least one member of the Philadelphia City Council wants to get rid of the library's arrears. The Free Library of Philadelphia raises around $ 400,000 in annual surcharges, representing almost $ 46 million of the library budget.
"Those fines are regressive financial sanctions that disproportionately impact the people and communities that can least afford them," said Councilman Cherelle Parker.
Library fees may not seem very expensive, but when every dollar counts to feed your children, those fines can accrue and keep readers away from the library.
Parker wants to eliminate late payment charges.
"We should be doing everything we can in the city of Philadelphia to increase literacy, close the digital divide and encourage the use of the large amount of resources available to us by our free library system," Parker said.
Philadelphia residents who frequent the library welcome the possible change.
"Anything that attracts more citizens, more people to the library in a way, shape or form, I think is a very good idea," said Stephen Mullin.
"I would encourage more people to use the library," said Tomika Anglin. "The library has many new programs and offers, so it is always good to have the library available to everyone, not only to those who can afford to use it."
The Philadelphia Free Library sent a statement to CBS3, which said in part:
"The Philadelphia Free Library has been studying the impact of a fines-free system over the past year, taking into account many factors, including the successful introduction of a library card for children without fines in 2013."
That is the news that Parker is excited to hear.
"I hope to have a very intense and robust conversation on this subject," Parker said.
Philadelphia would be the second most important city in eliminating late fees behind Chicago.
The date of the hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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