Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, New York Public Library's president said fines were an "ineffective" way of encouraging people to return books

The New York Public Library has become the latest and largest system to eliminate all fees on overdue materials and books.

Its president Anthony W Marx said late fees were "an ineffective way" of encouraging people to return books.

Under the old policy, card holders who had over $15 (£10.96) in fines would have their cards blocked and access to libraries revoked.

The city's libraries collected over $3 million in fees in 2019 alone.

New late fee charges were suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now they will be permanently eliminated.

"For those who can afford the fines, they are barely an incentive," Mr Marx said in a statement.

"For those who can't afford the fines – disproportionately low income New Yorkers – they become a real barrier to access that we can no longer accept."

To welcome newcomers or New Yorkers back to libraries, all branches in the systems will have a week, starting 18 October, of giveaways and special programmes to encourage patrons to stop by, return material or reconnect with their local libraries.

"Libraries are for everyone yet monetary fines create barriers to accessing library services for those who need it most,'' said city council speaker Corey Johnson as he commended the public libraries systems for taking an "important step to advance social equity."

The city's public library system has 92 locations and includes branches in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and the Brooklyn and Queens Public Library.

New York City joins a list of other major cities like San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego and Philadelphia that have wiped away all previous library late fines. The Boston Public Library announced this year that all late fees would be erased.

Many different libraries in North America, including some in Canada, have increasingly began to clear fees or have gone at least partially fine free to increase access to services.

So far, eliminating late fees has proven to be a success in many different cities.

The Chicago Public Library reported that thousands of users renewed or replaced their library cards after the abolition of fines in 2019. Additionally, the library saw an 83% increase in book returns months after the change.

The New York Public Library will still require users to pay replacement fees if books and other materials are lost. However, if materials are eventually returned no fees will apply.