A Purr-fect Program: A Massachusetts Public Library Is Waiving Fines When Shown A Cat Photo

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

While more and more public libraries elect to go fine-free for late-returned materials in the name of equity of service, that decision is not possible for all libraries across the country. To help patrons, many libraries offer amnesty weeks or programs that help those struggling to pay late fees to clear their balance. Often, even these fine-free facilities or amnesty events do not cover the fees associated with damaged or lost materials.

This week, Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts introduced March Meowness to help cardholders who may have fines on their accounts due to damaged or lost items. Through the entire month of March, fines will be cleared for anyone who shows up to the library and shows a photo of a cat. The library is already fine-free, so this is aimed to help those struggling with fines for book-related accidents.

It can be their own cat. It can be a friend’s cat. It can be a photo of a famous or celebrity cat. You can simply draw a cat. The cat in question doesn’t matter–show a cat, get your fines taken care of.

march meowness fine forgiveness program image.

“We understand accidents can happen, and sometimes fees might hold you back from fully using your public library. We hope that you will join us as we celebrate March Meowness at all of our Worcester Public Library locations,” reads the information for the program.

The program is connected to an entire month dedicated to cat programming at the library. Among the events are a craft workshop to make your own cat toys, an event in collaboration with the Worcester Animal Rescue League that encourages de-stressing with cats, cat-themed story times, scavenger hunts, and more.

As you might suspect, the library’s Facebook page has been spammed in the most purr-fect manner: cat photos from people across the country charmed by the idea.

Kudos to Worcester Public Library for a clever program and to everyone boosting serotonin levels by sharing these photos.