Worcester Public Library

Worcester Public Library celebrates ‘March Meowness’ and waives late fees in exchange for cat pictures

Forgot a book? No problem, get a picture of your or someone else’s cat to the Worcester Public Library now!

Have you ever had the misfortune of forgetting to return library books?

The fact that returning books can easily result in fines of several dollars when formerly they would have just cost 10 cents, is one way that things have started to become more expensive these days.

While a few dollars may not seem like much, for some people it can be a significant barrier to returning books and borrowing more.

In an era where prices are rising for nearly everything, the library is one of the only places where individuals may check out important things for free.

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Libraries now offer a great deal more than just books. For people who are unable to pay for these items outright, the availability of free audiobooks, movies, and some hardware—such as computers—makes life considerably easier.

Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts has created an engaging system that makes it easy for patrons to return books and allows them to receive an increasing number of free books without having to worry about paying fines.

worcester public library
Picture courtesy: Worcester Public Library’s Facebook page

By using their cat—really, any cat would do—patrons of the Worcester Public Library can completely avoid paying fines.

The library is hosting a program called “March Meowness” for the entire month, where supporters may bring in photos of their feline friends and have their fines waived.

If you don’t own a cat, you can still bring a drawing of a cat or a picture of your neighbor’s cat.

According to the library’s website, “We need you back at the library, so we are advertising one month of charge absolution for misplaced or harmed things from the Worcester Public Library.”

“If you show up with a picture of your cat, a famous cat, a drawing of a cat, a cat from a shield, or any other kind of cat, we’ll waive any fees on your library account.”

The library’s website further states, “We get it mishaps can happen, and now and then expenses might hold you back from completely utilizing your public library.”

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a cat; you can grab some colored pencils and draw the cutest cat you’ve ever seen.

“We’re always looking for ways to reduce barriers at the Worcester Open Library,” stated Jason Homer, the executive director of the Worcester Public Library.

He stated to WBUR, “We know that a part of people, unfortunately, through being displaced in housing, or life getting in the way in the global pandemic, lost a lot of materials.”

The community is invited to participate in several cat-themed events that the library is planning, including a Hello Kitty Party, a Cat Eye Makeup tutorial, and DIY cat toys.

As with other forgiveness programs, there are a few fine-print items that users should be aware of before visiting the library –

  1. The item must belong to the Worcester Public Library system.
  2. It must be missing for a minimum of two months.
  3. The librarians’ attention to detail allows them to forgo certain fees.
  4. A customer who has five or more items will be assessed by a manager.
  5. If it is believed that the broken or lost item is an attempt to “restrict access to different content,” costs will not be waived.
  6. The account holder needs to be present.
  7. All “Library of Things Things” are not absolved.

The Library of Things may consist of devices such as computers, projectors, electronic readers, sewing machines, and more that anybody may check out for personal use.

worcester public library
Worcester Public Library’s Facebook page

While the library has waived fines for a number of events in the past, this is the first time a cat-focused program has been offered.

In an interview with WBUR, Homer stated, “We’re really leaning in on the truth that, all in all, librarians are cat people.” He said that librarians love cats to pieces.

The library works hard to remove any barriers for its patrons; as a result, all fines were discontinued in 2020, while fees for lost or damaged materials were still incurred.

Perhaps more interactive programs like “March Meowness” will be developed by libraries across the nation to assist patrons in lowering the obstacles to borrowing books and other materials.

Maya Bennett