Social Library, Fines Edition

Jennifer Peterson /

Image courtesy Yarra Libraries‎‎ on Facebook

We're focusing this edition of our Social Library series on library fines, taking a look at how libraries are approaching the growing discussion around whether or not to eliminate fines on library materials. With the publication of the 2015 white paper by the Colorado State Library, advocating for the elimination of fines and fees on children’s materials, and the 2019 ALA Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity, we've seen libraries announcing a variety of approaches to addressing overdue materials fines. Andy Woodworth, on the new End Library Fines website, is collecting interviews, articles, and resources on the topic, along with maintaining a Fine Free Library Map, indicating libraries that are fine free, partially fine free, or those in the process of going fine free. We're highlighting a handful of libraries that are exploring approaches along the fines/no fines continuum. If you'd like to see your library featured in an upcoming edition of the Social Library, let us know via [email protected] or find us on Facebook.

  • Saskatoon Public Library in Canada first introduced the Good Readance program in 2018 and they brought it back for summer 2019. "This program enables patrons to eliminate fines owing on their library card by simply using the library. Usage of the library includes reading or studying in the library, attending a program, using a computer, playing video or board games...and everything in between!" During the summer, patrons were invited to track their library usage on a Good Readance card, and for each hour of reading or other activity, the library removed $10 in fines!
  • Richfield Township Public Library in Michigan announced in May, that "following the success of Amnesty April, the Library Board has voted to change our fines structure. We will no longer charge fines on books, audiobooks, and magazines."
  • Great Falls Public Library in Montana hosted a very special Fun Run for patrons with overdue fines to run them off! The Friends of the Great Falls Public Library sponsored the first ever Fine Free Fun Run, where $3,211 in library fines were forgiven. The event drew 130 running and walking participants, who earned $5 per 1.3 mile lap to apply to their own fines, or to donate towards children's fines. Runner's World, featured a fantastic story on the event, Library Fun Run Clears the Fines of Nearly 300 Patrons, noting the special guest runner, athlete and author Jennifer Pharr-Davis who participated in the run, and later in the day, presented at the library's Author Talk.