black mask speakingSPRINGFIELD – Children living in unincorporated areas may no longer have to pay large non-resident fees to access resources in libraries outside of their district, thanks to a new measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines).

“We know that children that read, succeed. We must do everything to remove barriers that prevent their access to libraries,” Murphy said. “It is long past time to increase access to library materials for our community’s children who are eager to learn through reading.”

Currently, children who want to access resources from a library outside of their district must pay a non-resident fee. These fees are determined by each library’s board of trustees, and typically are at least equal to the cost paid by the residents of the district. However, these fees are often far too expensive for children who want to access resources, like reading materials or computers, during their school breaks. Murphy aims to address these disparities by waiving non-resident library fees for kids who want to expand their horizons through reading.

Senator Murphy is a longtime supporter of increasing accessibility to library resources. In 2020, she advocated for a group of high school students living in unincorporated Des Plaines who could not check out reading materials from their local libraries without paying hundreds of dollars in non-resident fees. To address this issue, she supported a bill that extended library access to children residing outside of the municipality where their local library is located, which passed the Senate unanimously. She is hopeful that her latest initiative to increase library access will receive similar support from her colleagues.

“Public libraries provide many important services beyond just books—they provide resources for job and college applications, which are essential for brilliant young people seeking opportunities for their futures,” Murphy said. “We need to increase access to library resources to give all children all the tools to succeed.”

Senate Bill 3497 passed the Senate Wednesday. It now goes to the House for further deliberation.