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Massachusetts Library Offers the Puurfect Alternative to Paying Overdue Book Fees

Library cat picture

During the month of March, the Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts will waive readers’ overdue fees if they hand over a picture of a cat.

The library understands that sometimes people lose their books or simply forget to return them, and executive director James Homer doesn’t want that to stop people from reading. So he came up with a wholesome solution.

“People are struggling and sometimes choosing between paying for that book that, literally, your dog ate for $30 or buying $30 worth of groceries — those are two very different things,” he told Fox News.

“And, people do have priorities. So we want to come to them with kindness, with forgiveness and say, ‘Just be part of our community,’” he continued.

The “Feline Fee Forgiveness” program— also known as “March Meowness”—allows people to forget all their back charges if they hand over a photo of a cat, any cat. It doesn’t even need to be their own.

James explained that he came up with the idea because many book lovers love to open up a novel and cuddle up with a cozy cardigan and a cozy cat.

@worcesterpublib

We are so excited March Meowness is here, show us a picture of a cat and get your lost/damaged WPL fees forgiven! Visit mywpl.org for details #CapCut #worcesterpubliclibrary #lolz #foryoupage #foryourpage #fyp #fypシ #worcesterma #mywpl #cats #catsoftiktok #catsagram

♬ الصوت الأصلي – رومانى غريب

“Our staff has a lot of cats,” he continued before adding that the staff had been trying to think of ways to bring more people through the door, and they realized that there was a large group of people who weren’t coming because of their fees.

“‘What if we removed as many barriers as possible and told people they could show us a picture of a cat, draw a picture of a cat or just tell us about a cat?'” he remembered them asking.

Library Members Can Also Use a Picture of an “Honorary” Cat

This isn’t the first time the Worcester Public Library dropped overdue fees. In 2020, it also waived the charges for over a year because of COVID-19 setbacks.

@worcesterpublib

If you have lost item fees on your account, you can get them cleared with just a cat pic* at the #library ! *items must be owned by WPL; more info at mywpl.org; any animal pic will work if you dont have one of a cat #cat #cats #catsoftiktok #cattok #tabby #cutecat #cute #sillykitty #rescuekitty #rescuecat #book #booktok #lost #forgive #librariesoftiktok #librarytok #worcester #wpl

♬ Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna

Overall, James believes that charging late fees is detrimental and useless anyway. So he wouldn’t mind them going away for good.

“There’s a significant number of studies done by public libraries across the country that have proven we don’t get books back with fines,” he shared. “We end up losing people. Realistically, those fines did really nothing for the library, and it wasn’t really a money-generating piece. It was more like a sitting debt that was never paid.” 

Throughout March Meowness, the library will host multiple cat-themed activities, including a day where people can go in and de-stress by petting cats.

James noted that the staff will accept photos of other animals in lieu of felines. The staff is only looking for one cat-centric quality.

“Any ungovernable animal is good to us,” James joked.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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