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Public Library Director Toolkit

Fine Free

Many libraries are in the process of removing fines for overdue library materials. Some libraries are only doing this for children's materials while others are applying the practice to their entire collection.

Traditionally, fines have functioned as a scare tactic with the purpose to either punish those who do not return their items on time or to incentivize returning materials at all. Some libraries have even used fines as a way to bring in extra income. But as more and more libraries report going fine free, librarians are asking themselves, do fines even serve the purpose that they were initially created for?

Libraries that are eliminating fines are typically still charging patrons for lost or damaged materials. They are also reporting increased circulation numbers and increased library card applications.

Eliminating fines is a great way to open up access to libraries to all members of the community, but is it the right move for your library? If you're interested in making these changes, you'll need to get your board to agree with you. The research from the Colorado State Library is an excellent place to start. There are additional articles and webinars linked below to kick off your quest to becoming a fine free library.

Example Policies:

Further Reading and Webinars:

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.