Anyone under 18 years old will no longer be charged with late fees at the Boston Public Library, Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.
The move, which follows a unanimous vote from the library system's board of trustees, aims to expand access to library services and resources available to Boston's youth, Walsh said in a statement.
"In Boston, we believe that free and open access to the Library is crucial for children's literacy and education. Going 'fine free' is a step to level the playing field and become closer to ensuring that everyone has access to the important resources the Library provides," he said.
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The new policy goes into effect Nov. 1, when all pending overdue fines and replacement costs for youth library card holders will be removed, according to the announcement. Kids under 18 will still have to return any overdue books to be able to check out new ones and pay the replacement cost if a book is lost or not returned.
Anyone who loses a book will still be required to replace it under the "fine free" policy.
There are more than 150,000 children with Boston Public Library cards, but about 9 in 10 have fines, the city said, which keeps them from using some of the library's offerings.
"Too often, fines penalize those least able to afford them and have the unintended effect of turning young people, in particular, away from their libraries," libraries President David Leonard said.
Boston is joining the roughly 5 percent of public libraries that don't charge children fines, according to a Libary Journal study cited in the city's announcement.