Our Fine Free Story

What exactly does “fine free” mean?

Effective immediately, overdue items checked out from the Loyal Library will no longer accrue late fines, but cardholders are still responsible for returning items and paying for any lost or damaged materials.

Additionally, all existing late fines are cleared from Loyal Library accounts. Any existing charges for lost or damaged items will remain on accounts.

“By going fine free, the Library can strive to maintain its mission to enrich lives by providing free and open access to a variety of materials and services.” 

Loyal Public Library Mission

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are you getting rid of overdue fines?

A: In recent years, public libraries have come to recognize fines as a barrier to access. For people who can afford them, late fines are too small to make a difference. For those who struggle financially, a fine balance becomes a reason to be wary of checking out materials and may prevent the patron from coming back at all. Simply put, public libraries believe that no one should be denied access to the library or its collection because of an inability to pay.  We believe that providing the best service to the entire community is the heart of what we do.  We never want to turn anyone away from the library because of an inability to pay fines. 

Q: Won’t the library suffer financially as a result? Will this affect the library budget?

A. Our overdue fines have never been a part of our operating budget. We have usually put these fines into our Technology fund. Patrons who still wish to support us are welcome to donate any money they might have spent on late fines in our donation jar, but we will never limit library access to them if they are unable to, or choose not to do so. We would much rather accept a voluntary donation from someone who can afford it than see someone stop using the library’s resources just because they kept their items a bit too long.  The best investment we can make is ensuring that the library and its resources are available to all in our community. 

Q: Does this mean I can keep a book or other item for as long as I want?

A: No. Standard due dates still apply. Library users will still be charged replacement costs for items that are lost or damaged. If you keep an item too long, it will still go to billed status and a replacement charge will show up on your account. But as always, that charge disappears when you return the item in good condition. While a replacement charge exists on your account, you will be blocked from checking out additional items until the charges are paid or the items are returned.

Q. Are there any exceptions to the fine-free policy?

A. Yes. There are a few important exceptions.

1. Any items that are checked out by Loyal Library Cardholders at other WVLS Libraries may still accrue overdue fines.
2. Items that have been checked out for longer than their maximum loan period will be charged to your account. As always, when the item is returned in good condition, that charge will be waived.

Q. What other types of charges may still be incurred on my library account?

A. If an item is overdue for 28 days, it will be considered lost and a replacement cost will be charged to your account. If the item is returned to the library, those fines will be waived.
Additionally, if an item is damaged or a part is missing from an item when it is returned, you may still be charged.

Q. What if I have fines on my account from before you made this change?

A. Most existing fines will be waived and your card will be cleared. Any existing charges for lost or damaged items will still be the responsibility of the cardholder. However, if those items are returned to us in good condition, we will happily waive any fines associated with them. Please feel free to stop in and talk to us if you don’t see your fines disappear or you have questions about charges on your account.

Q. I always thought of fines as a way to support the library. How do I continue to support the library, if not through fines?

A. We are fortunate to have a generous community! The best way to support the library right now is to make donations to our Library or stop in and tell us what we can do to improve your library experience.

The Loyal Library is excited to welcome all of our community members and to remove any barriers that may have prevented you from using all of our services!

Q. Are you worried people won’t return their Library items?

A. Studies of public libraries that have gone fine free show that there was no drastic increase in late returns, and in some cases saw a drop in the rate of late returns.  Patrons will still receive reminder notices and are still responsible for returning their items.