Region of Waterloo Library goes fine free

Posted on Thursday December 16, 2021

Waterloo Region – The Region of Waterloo Library is ready to ring in the new year fine free. Members of the Region of Waterloo’s Library Committee voted in favour of the proposed policy change at its committee meeting on Wednesday, December 8; a decision that was ratified at Regional Council yesterday.

Library Committee Chair and Regional Councillor, Les Armstrong, said the removal of fines would improve access and remove barriers to library services across our community. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure we’re offering equitable service that enables library resources for everyone. Libraries everywhere are evolving into more welcoming and inclusive spaces – and this is a great step in that direction for us.”

The Region’s libraries are part of a growing movement of libraries eliminating overdue fines. Over 270 libraries across North America have transitioned to fine free. Overall, results have been positive, with increases in cardholders, circulation and public support.

Throughout the pandemic, even though we chose to not charge overdue fines, the majority of folks continued to return their items on time. This demonstrates that the punitive nature of fines is not motivational. What fines actually do is prevent access to library resources.” explained Sheryl Tilley, the Manager of Library Services. “Removing barriers is a much more productive way to invite people in and support our communities.”

The elimination of overdue fines also enables library staff to focus on developing core library services that have a positive impact on communities. “There is much more on the horizon for our Library,” explained Helen Chimirri-Russel, the Region’s Director of Cultural Services. “We are constantly evolving services to include more of what is relevant to the broader community, from lending gaming consoles to walkable story telling to the new seed library, there is a lot of good work going on to centre our services around the community.”

Residents of Waterloo Region can sign up for a free Region of Waterloo Library membership at  that is valid at any of the 10 branches operated by the Region, including access to all online resources and programming.  



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