Vancouver Island Regional Library now fine free on all physical items

Thursday, January 5, 2023 – The District is sharing the following from the Vancouver Island Regional Library:

Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is officially fine-free in 2023. As of January 1, VIRL has permanently removed late fees on all adult materials, after previously waiving fines on young adult and children’s items. 

“This decision from our Board means more families will have access to reading and educational materials, more seniors will be able to connect with their libraries, and no one will suffer the indignity and embarrassment of punitive fines restricting their ability to read, watch, and listen to the 750,000 physical items in our collection,” says Ben Hyman, VIRL’s Executive Director. “I would like to thank staff for their advocacy and vision to make our system fine free, and our Board for supporting this values-aligned outcome.”   

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, late fees on young adult and adult materials were suspended in response to COVID-related restrictions.  At the September 25, 2021 Board meeting, the Board approved the permanent removal of young adult fines and a one-year moratorium on adult fines.  Then, at the September 24, 2022 Board meeting, as part of the 2023 – 2026 budget, the Board approved the permanent removal of fines on all adult materials, starting in 2023.    

On average there are approximately 150,000 physical items checked out across VIRL’s system at any one time. Data collected by VIRL indicates that two-thirds of those items will be returned before the 21-day loan period is up, and 98% will be returned before 120 days. To help encourage borrowers to return their items on time, several reminders are sent in the lead-up to and after the due date.  After 120 days, VIRL will charge the replacement cost to recoup the cost of the item.  

Anyone with existing fines has also had them removed from their account as part of this change. In 2019, the Board permanently removed late fees on all children’s materials. 

Due dates and late returns are not an issue with digital materials, which now constitute one-third of the items borrowed by local residents.  

Media Contact 
David Carson, Director of Communications