Weekly Wonder: Despite Boston shutdowns, card use at the Boston Public Library decreased only slightly

By Lillian Eden
BU News Service

BOSTON – When the order for residents to stay at home came on March 26 due to COVID-19, many nonessential businesses closed. Some places, including the Boston Public Library, had decided to close prior to the order from Gov. Charlie Baker. On March 17, the BPL announced all events would be canceled, and all locations would shut their doors.

Although there was a slight dip in average library card use in April of this year, it is still higher than the average card use in April 2018 and well above the average card use in April 2017. Lisa Pollack, the chief of communications, explained in an email to BU News Service that the daily card use numbers are based on unique daily use, and do not correspond to how many cards have items checked out. If a member used the library’s online database to check out material, their card would count only once for that day. 

The BPL also announced that late fines would be waived until June 30 and that they would not be accepting returned material. 

This may come as a relief to some. If an adult had checked out 10 books before the COVID-19 closure, and the late fees hadn’t been waived, that adult could be facing a fine of up to $50 if the maximum fine amount was reached. Those under 18 would not have had to worry about fines at all, although they may have had to pay a lost item fee. 

Despite physical libraries being closed, it seems that people are still finding ways to use library resources and materials. 

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