The Chatter

Enoch Pratt Free Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

At least 13,000 borrowers who had their cards blocked will be welcomed back.

By Michelle Harris | June 4, 2018, 11:55 am

The Chatter

Enoch Pratt Free Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

At least 13,000 borrowers who had their cards blocked will be welcomed back.

By Michelle Harris | June 4, 2018, 11:55 am

The Enoch Pratt Free Library has become the first public library in the state to eliminate overdue fines for its customers. The official announcement will be made by Mayor Catherine Pugh and Pratt Library president and CEO Heidi Daniel today at the Free to Bmore community block party at the Walbrook branch on North Avenue. This new initiative makes the Pratt Library one of the first major urban libraries on the East Coast to waive fines on materials.

“As a public library, our top goal is to provide equal access to information, services, and opportunities for all,” Daniel said in a statement. “We know fines are a barrier to access for thousands of Baltimore City residents. We want to break down that barrier for them.”

The branches with the most blocked users are the main library downtown, the Southeast Anchor Library in Highlandtown, and the Pennsylvania Avenue branch in West Baltimore, which include areas with high poverty rates. Fees begin at 20 cents a day for adults for late materials up to $6 and children and teens are charged 10 cents a day up to $3. Once a customer reaches $10, the library card is cut off. Under the new policy, cards will be blocked when the balance reaches $25 and payment plans will be available.

According to Pratt Library records, the system will reverse $186,000 in penalties for 26,000 people and 13,000 borrowers will be able to resume their borrowing privileges.

Beginning today, no matter how late the Pratt-owned materials are, all fines will be waived. Fees for lost, damaged, or materials borrowed through the inter-library loan will still apply.

“I’ve seen parents tell children not to take out library books because they fear having fines they can’t pay,” Daniel said. “We want to ease those financial worries and welcome everyone back to their library.”

Pratt’s chief operating officer Gordon Krabbe says that overdue fines account for less than one quarter of the of one percent of the library’s $40 million annual budget. The library will waive nearly $100,000 in fines collected each year but will continue to charge customers full price to replace books never returned. He says it’s a small problem that accounts for a lot of resources and time that could be put elsewhere.

“We spend more trying to collect the fines,” he said. “This is a policy that just makes sense.”

The Free to Bmore block party will begin at 2 p.m. today and will also feature an unveiling of a new mural by a local artists Mural Masters, music by DJ Landis Exandis, and free food and performances.




Meet The Author

Michelle Harris is the digital content producer for Baltimore, where she covers news, community, sports, and beauty.



You May Also Like


Arts & Culture

Pop Goes the Library

After donating much of his vast comic book and memorabilia collection to the nation's library, Steve Geppi sits down for a lively conversation with librarian of congress Carla Hayden.

Style & Shopping

My Top Ten With Violet Apple

The CEO of Girls Scouts of Central Maryland shares her favorite things.

In Good Taste

Food Inspection Discussion Ramps Up Following Viral Rat Videos

Community weighs in on procedures to prevent future infestations.


The Chatter

When Tragedy Strikes a Newsroom at the Capital Gazette

Local journalists weigh in on colleagues they lost and how reporters respond in crisis.

The Chatter

New BGE and Maryland Zoo Partnership Provides Fresh Food for the Animals

The program will use tree trimmings to feed various animals at the zoo.

The Chatter

Central Avenue Bridge Opens New Pathway to Harbor Point

After more than a year of anticipation, neighborhood businesses react to the opening.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Scalawags Pit Meat Brings Barrel-Smoked Barbecue to Local Pop-Ups: Gnocco general manager Sam White launches a pit beef project.

Where to Find the Best Co-Working Spaces in Baltimore: Find free parking, complimentary coffee, and even child care at these shared spaces around town.

Bike Share Stations Out and Dockless Bicycles and Scooters In: Struggling bike share program cancelled as City shifts to new technologies.

New BGE and Maryland Zoo Partnership Provides Fresh Food for the Animals: The program will use tree trimmings to feed various animals at the zoo.

Center Stage Names Stephanie Ybarra as New Artistic Director: With an interest in social justice and inclusivity, Ybarra will come to Baltimore from New York's Public Theater this fall.