Also: A scheme to save London after dark, and when brilliant physicists toiled under a beer-can roof.

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What We’re Following

Long overdue: Chicago libraries will no longer collect late fees, becoming the largest public library system in the U.S. to do away with overdue fines. The city is also erasing all current outstanding fees for more than 343,000 cardholders whose borrowing privileges have been revoked. The city’s own data revealed that the fines disproportionately affected communities of color and people living in poverty, and that by prohibiting people from borrowing books, the libraries were effectively driving away the poorest residents who need them the most.

Chicago joins a growing number of U.S. cities—including San Francisco, Phoenix, and Dallas—that have reformed their overdue book policies to make access to libraries more equitable. “Overdue fines are not distinguishing between people who are responsible and who are not,” says the communications director at the Urban Libraries Council. “They're distinguishing between people who can and cannot use money to overcome a common oversight.” CityLab’s Linda Poon has the story: The Case for Axing Overdue Library Fines

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

A Scheme to Save London After Dark

The U.K. capital has been struggling to boost the vitality of its nightlife. One new plan: Encourage entrepreneurs to open more late-closing businesses.

Feargus O'Sullivan

Could a Solar-Powered Uprising Reshape Puerto Rico?

With coal ash wreaking havoc on Puerto Rican cities like Guayama, some activists are done waiting for government action.

Paola Rosa-Aquino

When Brilliant Physicists Toiled Under a Beer-Can Roof

The inspired and eccentric design of a hub of Cold War physics research, the Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Illinois.

Matthew Francis

A German City of Industry Gets a Modern Makeover

The German company Siemens is launching an ambitious adaptive reuse project to revitalize its historic corporate campus, with a modern data-collecting twist.

Cathrin Schaer


Blunder Bus

(Shutterstock)

Have you ever read a bus sign and had no idea when the bus would stop there or where it would go? Of all the challenges that riding the bus can present to riders, few seem as easy to correct as abysmal signage, but bad signs are pervasive in public transit. City bus systems often get the least amount of aesthetic and infrastructural attention from their municipal overseers, making it difficult for riders to find their way around and discouraging bus ridership.

CityLab’s Laura Bliss looks at some of the worst bus signage fails and how to make them better. See, for example, the bus sign above from Paris, with clearly labeled wait times! Read her story: Very Bad Bus Signs and How to Make Them Better


What We’re Reading

The troubling economics of food halls (Heated)

Why Jump—Uber’s e-Bike scheme—failed in two cities (Outside)

The help-yourself city (99 Percent Invisible)

Not in my bat’s yard: How providing habitats for bats throws a wrench in the development process (Curbed)

Op-ed: A successful climate plan must also tackle the housing crisis (The Guardian)


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