Insight & Analysis

Library fines paid by cat pictures

Published: Mar 2024

Public libraries in Massachusetts, US have found a creative solution to retrieve their books by forgiving fines for patrons who bring in cat photos.

Tabby cat biting a digital camera

The initiative, “Felines for Fee Forgiveness!”, was established by Worcester Public Library as part of a month long celebration centred around cats, aptly named March Meowness.

During the month of March, individuals who have incurred fines due to lost or damaged library books are offered the opportunity to reinstate their privileges by presenting a photograph, drawing or magazine clipping featuring a cat.

In addition to cats, the library said it would accept ‘honorary cats’ as well: “you may show us a picture or drawing of a dog, raccoon, orca, capybara, or any other animal.”

The programme has been a huge success, with over 400 accounts of fines cleared in the first five days. The library has now created a display wall for all the pictures of cats being sent in by people.

“We found that many of our patrons may have items that were misplaced during the pandemic as schools shut and we entered quarantine,” said Jason Homer, Executive Director of the library. “We wanted to get everyone back in the library, and using our resources, and also wanted to create a really low barrier to get these fees forgiven.”

As part of March Meowness the library is hosting several other cat-themed activities, including a screening of the 2019 movie Cats, a cat-eye make-up tutorial, a “de-stressing” hour of playing with shelter cats, DIY cat crafts, a scavenger hunt and more!

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