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Fine Free

We are a fine free library

On May 1, 2020, we joined the national movement to stop charging overdue fines on library materials and wiped out all existing fines for overdue materials. Eliminating overdue fines removes barriers and helps us provide a more equitable experience for all of the people in our community. It also improves our checkout process by letting our staff focus on more positive interactions with patrons. We want to encourage people to enjoy coming to the library and we welcome back those patrons who may have stayed away in the past because of an overdue fine on their account.

Do items still have due dates?

Yes, each item still has 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 items on time, we can send you reminders by email. You can set up email reminders in your library account.

How are overdue items treated?

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 45 days past due, you will need to either return the item or pay the replacement cost to unlock your account. 

Will I still be charged a fee for lost or damaged items?

You will not be charged a fee for overdue or damaged items.

Items not returned after being overdue for six weeks will be considered lost. Lost items will be billed at the replacement cost. You can receive a refund for the lost item if you return it to the library in good condition within 30 days of payment. (Replacement copies are not accepted in lieu of payment.)

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 Indian Trails, Lake Forest, Niles-Maine, Palatine, and Vernon Area Public Library District.

Will I be charged late fees if I use a card from another library to check out materials?

No. We do not charge overdue fines to anyone who checks out materials at our library, including those who visit from other libraries.

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

Fines account for only a very small percentage (approximately .2%) of our operating budget, and this number has decreased over time. When we implemented our popular auto-renewal policy in 2018, we saw a dramatic reduction in overdue fines. 

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. 

In addition, we monitor popular items and the holds queue to ensure no one has to wait too long for an item. We also have created a new Popular Picks and expanded Luck Day collection on the first floor so that there are always high-demand titles available.

What will happen to the “Food for Fines” drive?

Our partnership with the Northfield Township Food Pantry is very important to us, and we continue to hold successful food drives at the library to support them. We thank our patrons for their generosity. 

Can I still donate funds to support the library?

We recognize that many people view overdue fines as a way to support their local library, and we appreciate the support. You can learn more about ways to support the library here