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Why is the library eliminating overdue fines?

It’s good for Lincoln Park! Our community is stronger and healthier when all people have access to programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience all that the library has to offer.

Have other libraries eliminated overdue fines?

Yes. Hundreds of libraries throughout the United States have eliminated overdue fines, including downriver libraries such as Southgate and Allen Park. Major metropolitan libraries throughout the country have also eliminated overdue fines.

But don’t overdue fines ensure that people return library materials on time?

Actually, no. Overdue fines are not effective. Studies have shown that fines have virtually no impact on return rates. Once someone incurs a late fee, they are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries who have removed late fees report few adverse effects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trust that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Other libraries have experienced an increase in return rates after the adoption of fine free policies, as previous users who had stopped using the library return.

Will there still be due dates?

Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Overdue items will still be marked as lost, if they are overdue for more than 21 days (3 weeks). You will be charged for the cost of lost items, just as you would be now. If the lost item is returned, you will no longer be charged for the cost of the item, and no overdue fines will be applied. A patron’s library card will be automatically blocked if there is a lost item on the account. If items are damaged while in your care, you will still be charged the cost of the item.

What happens if I have outstanding fines on my account?

Any existing overdue fines on your account will be waived. However, existing fees for lost items will remain and should be paid at your earliest convenience.

What if I borrow items through interlibrary loan or from another library?

Items that are borrowed from the Lincoln Park Library will be fine free. Fines are set by the location where materials are borrowed. Items borrowed by a Lincoln Park resident from other libraries that charge fines will be subject to the policies of that library.

How will this affect the library’s budget?

While the library is always carefully watching its bottom line, any loss of overdue fine revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for the community. Overdue fines account for less than 0.5% of the library’s overall income .

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