The Chicago Public Library Allows Users with Outstanding Fines Access to Computers

CPL continues to remove barriers to information access, improve computer services

Starting today, the Chicago Public Library will begin a pilot project to increase computer and information accessibility to patrons by no longer blocking patrons with outstanding fines from using its public computers to search the Internet or create word processing and spreadsheet documents.

“In this difficult economic climate, patrons who can not afford to pay a fine are often the ones most in need of library computers to look for jobs, apply for various aid or access other important resources to improve their lives,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “By removing this barrier, the Library can assist them in these goals.”

This change in policy will affect patrons who have active library cards; patrons with expired cards will still be required to pay the balance owed before receiving an updated library card.

This project coincides with the ongoing installation of productivity software on all 2,506 public computers in library locations across the city. Started in May, the rollout of the free, open source LibreOffice Productivity Suite has updated public computers in 35 of the 79 CPL locations. All libraries are expected to have the upgrade by the end of the summer. With this software upgrade, patrons can use word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software to create resumes, research papers, presentations and homework assignments using their free access to the Library’s computers.

As announced in January, all Chicago Public Library branch locations will return to full Monday hours of service for the summer starting today, the first full day of vacation for Chicago Public School students. Every branch will offer eight hours of service and programs, including Rahm’s Readers summer reading program activities and events.