[For more information on eliminating fines, check out our Eliminating Fines FAQ!]
Many libraries charge overdue fines because of three main assumptions:
- Fines bring back materials faster (and at all)
- Fines generate revenue for the library
- Fines teach responsibility
Published research and a growing amount of recent evidence show that, actually, none of these assumptions are true—at all!
Overdue fines do, though, have a significant impact on patrons:
- Overdue fines disproportionately impact patrons with lower incomes, as transportation and financial burdens disproportionately affect low-income residents
- Parents are reluctant to check out books for their children for fear of fines
- Patrons with high overdue fines often have their library cards blocked
For these reasons, more and more libraries around the country—and the world—are eliminating fines. Take a look at the impressive map below noting libraries that have gone partially or totally fine free!
If you want to learn more about going fine-free or are actively trying to eliminate fines, here are some resources that may be helpful. You can find research and articles, some recent examples of reports and visuals from libraries that have recently gone fine-free, and a template and example of an infographic that you can customize for your library to use a tool for your governing body, staff, community and other stakeholders to advocate for eliminating fines.
If you have questions about this topic or need additional information, please contact Beth Crist, firstname.lastname@example.org.
These two infographic templates can help you get started on collecting data and stories to present to your governing body, public, staff, and other stakeholders, in order to make your case for eliminating overdue fines. Select whichever template best fits with data you’ve collected, your situation, or simply your preference.
These examples demonstrate a sample of completed infographics, using the above templates.
DePriest, M. (2016). Removing Barriers to Access: Eliminating Fines and Fees on Children’s Materials. Colorado State Library. http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/removingbarrierstoaccess.
San Francisco Public Library. (2019). Long Overdue: Eliminating Fines on Overdue Materials to Improve Access to San Francisco Public Library. http://bit.ly/LongOverdueReport.
St. Paul Public Library. (2019). Fine Free. https://sppl.org/fine-free/.
American Library Association. Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity (January 2019). http://www.ala.org/aboutala/sites/ala.org.aboutala/files/content/governance/council/council_documents/2019_ms_council_docs/ALA%20CD%2038%20RESOLUTION%20ON%20MONETARY%20LIBRARY%20FINES%20AS%20A%20FORM%20OF%20SOCIAL%20JUSTICE%20Revised%201_27_0.pdf
Woodworth, Andy. (2019). Fine Free Library Map. https://endlibraryfines.info/fine-free-library-map/
Crist, B. (2019). Eliminating Fines FAQs. Colorado Virtual Library. https://www.coloradovirtuallibrary.org/resource-sharing/eliminating-fines-faqs/.
DePriest, M. (2020). The Future Is Fine Free: How Libraries Are Increasing Equity, Engagement and Access for Their Communities. Recorded Online Session. Infopeople. https://vimeo.com/391379477
Bromberg, P. (2019). Fine Free. Salt Lake City Public Library. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pk77n53ujmsi2ec/AADvJVNQnt0hWKZmprErd_9sa?dl=0. (wide variety of resources about going fine free and examples from Salt Lake City Public Library)
It’s Not Fine to Fine. (2019). https://www.itsnotfinetofine.com/. (a website dedicated to removing library fines in Australia)
Wacek, Dawn. (2018). A librarian’s case against overdue book fines. TEDxUWLaCrosse. https://www.ted.com/talks/dawn_wacek_a_librarian_s_case_against_overdue_book_fines?language=en.
Graham, Ruth. (February 2017). Long Overdue: Why public libraries are finally eliminating the late-return fine.Slate. https://slate.com/culture/2017/02/librarians-are-realizing-that-overdue-fines-undercut-libraries-missions.html.
DePriest, M., and B. Crist. (August 2019). Eliminating Late Fines is a Win-Win for Your Library and Community – Recorded Online Session. Nebraska Library Commission. http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgID=18633 (webinar archive and presentation slides)
Dixon, J. A., and S. A. Gillis. (April 2017). Doing Fine(s)? Fines & Fees. Library Journal. https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=doing-fines-fines-fees
Paraschiv, P. (September 2018). The latest trend in libraries: eliminating fines. Princh blog. https://princh.com/the-latest-trend-in-libraries-eliminating-fines-interview-with-beth-crist-and-meg-depriest/#.XW6g6S5KhaQ