New Westminster – New Westminster Public Library is excited to announce it will no longer charge overdue fines on library materials. As part of the roll-out to this new policy, the library will be granting a one-time amnesty that will erase all fines from all accounts that were in place prior to September 10, 2022.

“The New Westminster Public Library Board of Trustees join with other libraries across Canada who have come to understand how traditional library represent a serious equity issue,” said Library Board Chair Norah Andrews. “By eliminating fines, hundreds of library users will again be able to check out library materials and take advantage of everything the library has to offer. This is a key element of our 2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan that emphasizes equity of access and the reduction of barriers to library use.”

“New Westminster Public Library is proud to support our commitment to equitable library service for all. By eliminating overdue fines and nearly all fees, we want to encourage more residents to use and enjoy the library”, said Chief Librarian Jorge Cardenas.

In August of 2021, the Library Board and library staff began to explore the costs and benefits of moving to a fine-free model. Following this review and in consultation with the City of New Westminster, the Library Board unanimously passed an updated policy on June 21, 2022 eliminating the charging of overdue fines as well as other fees related to costs to replace a library card, and regular holds pick-up fees. The library has actually not assessed these fines since the arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020.

In the lead-up to the Board decision, Library staff reviewed data on borrowing trends, cardholder trends, use patterns of other fine-free libraries, and revenue generated by overdue fines. As a result, it became clear that overdue fines and the blocked library cards that often resulted from fines, affected services for many New Westminster residents, in particular those with lower incomes and marginalized communities. “When we looked at library materials since we paused fine charges during COVID, there was no difference in terms of wait times and the overall return rate, and any revenue from the fines that were collected accounted for less than 1% of the library’s budget” said Cardenas.

Now, the Library will charge minimal costs for some services, such as printing, Interlibary Loans requested and not picked up, and lost or damaged materials, though this charge will be waived if items are returned in good condition. Staff will exercise empathy and compassion when enforcing library policies around charges incurred on borrower accounts.

Library staff will work with all partners in the month of September and as well as with affected customers during the transition period. In most cases Library customers won’t notice much on their accounts, except that those with fees related to late or overdue materials will see them removed.

An official announcement of the new policy will be made by Mayor Jonathan Cote and Library Leadership as part of the Summer Reading Club Wrap-up party scheduled September 10, 2022, 1:30 – 3:00pm at the Queens Park Oval.

For more information, please visit www.nwpl.ca/finefree or contact Jorge Cardenas, Chief Librarian at 604-527-4675 or jcardenas@nwpl.ca.

We’re looking for volunteers to help suggest some changes to our website!

We want to make it easier for you to find what you need on our website.

To do this we would like to meet with you (virtually via zoom, or in person one-on-one) for no more than 15 minutes. You will be taken through a short set of tasks to see if what we are planning will actually make things easier for website visitors.

In-person meetings will be physically distanced, in our 2nd floor Gallery Room, and volunteers will be required to wear a mask for the duration of the session. Sanitization supplies will be available. If you prefer, we can meet over Zoom to complete the tasks.

If you are interested in participating we’d love to hear from you. Email askus@nwpl.ca or call 604-636-4342 and ask for Liz.

We thank you in advance for helping us improve our services to the community!

There are two construction projects currently underway at the library. We have provided some details and information related to each below:

Building Envelope Repair

When will the construction occur?

  • November 15 – January 2022

What is being done?

  • Work will be done to repair a leak into the lower level of the library and apply waterproofing to that same area.

How will this affect me?

  • Fencing and construction equipment will be set up in the area around the library parking lot as well as along the Ash Street Plaza. The pathway itself will remain open.
  • Landscaping has been temporarily removed from the area concerned and will be replaced once the project is complete.
  • Construction crews will be digging and at times drilling so there may be noise during their working hours of 7:30am – 4:30pm (though start times may vary according to weather).
  • As waterproofing is applied to the exterior area, there may be some smell from the material that is being used.

 

DVD Shelving Installation

When will the construction occur?

  • November 15 – 21

What is being done?

  • The shelves that house our DVD collection are being installed throughout our multi-media collection. They will prevent units from dropping behind the shelving, and reduce the amount of missing or lost items as a result.

How will this affect me?

  • DVD’s have been temporarily relocated, and there may be some disruption to accessing these and some CD’s during the week of November 15 – 21.
  • There may be noise in the library while the shelving is being assembled.

Questions? Please write to us at AskUs@nwpl.ca

We are thrilled to welcome our new Chief Librarian, Jorge Cardenas, who started at NWPL just after Thanksgiving. Jorge comes to us from Burnaby Public Library where he was the Manager of Community Development. So who is Jorge and what does he have planned for the NWPL? We wanted to know as much as you do, so we sat down to ask him!

What would you like the community to know about you?

I’m an immigrant in Canada who is still trying to understand the different communities and cultures around here. I love biking, reading and sports. I’m passionate about community development, anti-racism, and finding solutions for the climate crisis.

Where does your passion for libraries come from?

I have been a library user since I was a kid. Oaxaca (Mexico), my hometown, has many amazing libraries with great spaces, many books, movie screenings, and activities… it was easy to become a regular and to take advantage of the free and welcoming environment. It wasn’t until I came to Canada, however, that I thought about working in a library because as amazing as libraries are in Oaxaca, the concept of the library here includes things I wasn’t aware of: intellectual freedom, digital services, information hubs, support for immigrants and businesses and many more. Discovering that brought my passion to a new level.

What can you tell us about the Library’s new Strategic Plan?

I’m very excited about it! For me, the NWPL’s Strategic Plan both reflects my vision of what libraries should be and do, and it aligns with my career trajectory, so it’s a great fit. I’m looking forward to the work ahead where we figure out what this means for our day to day operations.

What’s the most pressing issue for libraries in Canada?

There are several things that are pressing, but as we emerge from the emergency phase of the COVID pandemic, one issue that I’m concerned about is how to recreate the library as a vital public space. When libraries were shut down because of the pandemic, one of the only types of public spaces that is open to everyone disappeared. It’s pretty clear how important that space is to inclusive and engaged communities, and its importance is even greater now as libraries provide resources for virtually-employed community members without a home office. I’m looking forward to seeing how library space can play an even more crucial role in Canadian society going forward.

What’s the thing about New Westminster that most piques your interest?

I am trying to eat my way around New West. I’m sure I’ll find great food of every kind but I’m trying to find excuses to talk to people and get to know the community better, and talking about what you eat or your next best meal are great topics and conversations starters.

I know you’re a cyclist, where do you like to ride in New West?

Before working here, I used to bike to the Quay and along the Waterfront, to Steel and Oak the local brewery, and a few times took the bike path that follows the Skytrain. Now, however, I want to bike every street of New West, every neighbourhood is beautiful and I think the city is very bikeable despite the terrible hills!

What have you been reading lately?

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard and Inventario by Jose Emilio Pacheco. I always try to read one book in Spanish and one in English – I don’t want to lose touch with either my current reality or my heritage.

Where’s your favorite place to read?

Anywhere, really, but I tend to read more in bed.

What are you looking forward to most about your role?

Getting to know the people I work with and the different communities in New West. This means also trying to find new and collaborative ways to understand  community needs and to solve those needs using the expertise library staff has.

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Thanks so much for helping us get to know you a bit better, Jorge. A warm welcome from all of us here in New Westminster!