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Goodbye Overdue Fines

Goodbye Overdue Fines

Our mission is "connecting our diverse communities with resources and experiences to educate and enrich lives." These past two years have shown us just how important a role the library plays in the lives of our guests and our communities. You shouldn’t have to worry about life getting in the way and preventing you from using the library. To better live out our mission, we made a big decision:

We will be fine free forever on all Metro-owned materials except technology (hotspots, Chromebooks, laptops, iPads), Experience Passes, and titles borrowed via interlibrary loan. Here’s more information:

 

Why did we make this decision?

We want you to use the library, and overdue fines are a barrier to access. To meet the information needs of our communities, we are committed to reducing barriers to access. Going fine free helps us achieve that commitment. Since we began our pilot last year, over 50,000 inactive accounts were re-activated and customers who previously stopped using the library due to overdue fines began using the library again.

 

Can I still accrue overdue fines?

It depends on what you’re borrowing. We’ll still have overdue fines on titles borrowed via interlibrary loan ($.50 per day up to the replacement cost of the title) and on Metro-owned items like Experience Passes ($1 per day to a max of $30), Wi-Fi hotspots ($.50 per day to a max of $30), and in-library use only equipment like laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads ($5 per hour to a max of $60 per day).

 

Without overdue fines, how will you ensure that titles are returned?

From our fine free pilot this last year, we learned a few things:

  • The number of overdue items and guests with overdue items have decreased.
  • The percentage of the collection considered lost or overdue was reduced.
  • Items in our collection are not being kept longer.
  • Hold wait times have not shown significant increases.

Our statistics are in alignment with many other library systems that went fine free. They reported no increase in overdue titles. We also have processes in place to notify guests when their titles are due and after a title is more than 60 days overdue, guests will be billed for the item, and they won’t be able to borrow titles until the item is paid for or returned.

 

How did this decision impact the library’s budget?

Historically, fine revenue has represented less than 1% of the library’s budget. Most of the library’s funding comes from ad valorem (property) tax, which is a stable and reliable source of funding. Going fine free last year let us see how removing fines would impact our budget. After piloting this project for one year, we realized there was no significant change to the budget and we continue to offer programs, services, and collections without any cuts due to a decrease in fine revenue.  



If you would like to support the library, here are some ways. 

Visit supportmls.org to learn about contributing to the Friends of the Metropolitan Library System and/or to the Library Endowment Trust.

 

 

We’re excited about continuing with our fine free program, and we hope you are, too. In fact, we’d like to hear from you. You can reach us at metrolibrary.org/askalibrarian or you can share your thoughts with us on social media by tagging us and using the hashtag #FineFree.