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Fine Free FAQs

We are excited to announce that we have joined the national movement to stop charging overdue fines.

 

What does it mean to be fine free?

We will no longer charge fines for overdue items to any patrons, including those who visit us from other libraries, who check out at our library. The fine free policy only applies to overdue items. Fines will be charged accordingly on lost or damaged items and the GoGo Gadgets Collection.

What if I currently have overdue fines on my account?

We are currently in the process of wiping out all existing fines for overdue materials, and we will no longer be charging fines for any materials checked out in the future. 

What are some of the benefits of going fine free?

Being fine free removes barriers and helps us provide a more equitable experience for all of the people in our community. We want to encourage people to enjoy coming to the library, and we believe that assessing financial penalties for late items is counterproductive to this goal. 

It will also improve the checkout process by letting our staff focus on more positive interactions with patrons. We want people to be excited about coming to the library, rather than worried about whether or not they owe a fine. We hope to welcome back everyone who has been staying away because of a fine on their account.

Do items still have due dates?

Yes, each item will still have a due date, and you are still responsible for honoring the due date or renewing the item. When you return items on time, it lets your neighbors borrow items sooner. 

To help you return your items on time, we can send you reminders. Email and phone call reminders can be set up through your library account. Text message reminders can be set up through Shoutbomb.

How will overdue items be treated now?

Although you will no longer be charged a fine, after an item is two weeks overdue, your account will be blocked from any further checkouts until you return the item. The account block includes checking out items at the desk and self-check, as well as access to our digital downloads and databases. 

If an item is more than 30 days past due, you will need to either return the item or pay the replacement cost to unlock your account.

Can I still be charged if I check out an item from a library that hasn’t gone fine free?

Yes. If you check out an item from a library that has not gone fine free, you can still be charged a fine from that library. However, many area libraries have already made the decision to eliminate overdue fines and others are considering it. Some of the area libraries that are fine free include Fountaindale Public Library District, White Oak Library District (children’s materials only) and Shorewood Public Library (children’s materials only).

How will the Library recoup the funds received from late fees?

Fines account for only a very small percentage (approximately .5%) of our operating budget, and this number has decreased over time. We will be exploring alternative sources of revenue to balance the loss.

Will I have to wait longer for popular items to be returned?

Libraries that have gone fine free have not seen any difference in when items are returned. Most items are returned within a week of their due date. 

Can I still donate funds to the Library?

We recognize that many people view overdue fines as a way to support their local library. We appreciate the support, there are other ways you can support your library.

What will happen to the Food for Fines drive?

Donating to those in need is important to the Library. We will find other ways to continue to support our local food pantries and organizations. 

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