Woman relaxing reading a book while her pet kitten peeks over the top of it looking at the camera.

One Library Is Letting Patrons Pay Fines With Cat Pics

Did you lose a library book? If you’re in Worcester, MA, never fear—you can pay off your fee with a cat picture.

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As part of the Worcester Public Library’s “March Meow-ness” initiative, patrons with fees for lost or damaged items can get their records cleared this month by bringing in an image of a cat. No, this is not a joke. Libraries really are this awesome.

According to the library website, patrons with items that have been lost or damaged for at least two months can bring in “a picture of your cat, a famous cat, a picture you drew of a cat, a shelter cat – any cat,” and the library will forgive any fees on their account. There’s some fine print, of course—for instance, you can’t intentionally damage a diverse title and then get that fee waved—but it’s a pretty generous policy.

“We at the Worcester Public Library are always looking for ways to reduce barriers,” Library Executive Director Jason Homer told local radio station WBUR. “We know that a lot of people, unfortunately, through being displaced in housing, or life getting in the way in the global pandemic, lost a lot of materials.”

Homer also specified that big cats, like lions and tigers, also count.

This initiative is good news for residents of Worcester, but it’s also part of a larger trend in libraries around the U.S.

More libraries are going fine-free to help people use the library

I worked for the Los Angeles Public Library in 2020 when that system went fine-free, doing away with late fees for overdue items. (Unfortunately, the library’s big launch event was scuttled by Covid, but we still tried our best to get the word out.) When it happened, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed similar concerns as Homer: “The burden of the fines placed on Angelenos is significant — for students, for families who don’t have a lot of spending money, for seniors on a fixed income … Library fines can be a barrier to tapping into all the incredible resources that we have here in our libraries.”

So if you’re in Worcester, get out those cat photos and get your fines erased while it’s still March! And if you use another library system, check to see if they’re fine-free. You may be pleasantly surprised.

(featured image: SolStock / Getty Images)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>