Arlington’s Libraries are FINE FREE

Effective Thursday, February 14, Arlington joins a growing national trend by removing overdue fines on materials borrowed at the Robbins Library and Fox Branch Library.

The library will continue to issue date due notices as well as overdue notifications. After the final overdue notice, borrowers will receive a bill for the cost of the material by email or mail. Fees vary by type of material, and revenue collected for lost or damaged materials gets deposited in the Town’s general fund.

Why get rid of overdue fines?

  • Eliminating fines helps close the opportunity gap: families and individuals with limited or fixed income depend upon the materials that libraries offer. Fines hinder library use.
  • Fines do not accrue on e-books and e-audiobooks, which creates inequality between those who borrow digital materials and those who borrow physical materials. Digital borrowing has increased since becoming available and continues to increase.
  • When fines disappear, library use goes up. Many public libraries have already changed their policies and are now fine-free including libraries in Andover, Chelmsford, Dover, Reading, Weymouth and Woburn. Outside Massachusetts, libraries in Albany, Baltimore, Denver, Nashville, and Salt Lake City have gone fine-free and have seen increases in circulation and patron registrations.
  • It’s been proven that fines are not an effective incentive to return materials on time. In fact people with the means to pay fines often keep materials past the due date simply because they can, which creates yet more inequality.

“By eliminating fines we’re making the library easier to use than ever,” says Andrea Nicolay, Director of Libraries. “People who fear fines and don’t have library cards are under-served. There are also many misconceptions about fines, and that creates barriers too. We want everyone to feel good about using their library cards.”

Exceptions to the general fine-free practice will include in-house circulating equipment like laptops, as well as non-Minuteman Library Network interlibrary loan materials, for example a book lent from a library in California to an Arlington patron.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does fine-free begin?

Arlington’s Libraries are fine-free on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

Will taxes increase because the library is eliminating overdue fines?

Going fine-free does not impact taxes. Library fines have historically represented less than .03% of annual revenue to the Town’s general fund, and total fines collected per year have steadily decreased with the rise in digital library use (e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video through Kanopy).

Will overdue fines be waived on ALL materials?

Overdue fines will not be waived on in-library use equipment (laptops, keyboards, mice) or on Comcat/Worldcat interlibrary loan items (aka non-Minuteman Library Network materials).

How does the library get people to return borrowed materials without charging fines?

“No overdue fines” does not mean “no responsibility.” Due dates still apply, and borrowers owe it to other library users to bring materials back in a timely manner. Borrowing privileges are suspended once a patron has a billed item in their account.

What is the timeline for when an overdue item becomes a billed item?

Overdue Notices are generated after items are at least 14 days overdue, and are delivered via email, text, or mail depending on user preference. Bills are generated two weeks after the overdue notice, or four or more weeks after the item is due.

What if I return an item for which I’ve been billed?

The bill (replacement cost) is removed from the account.

Will I be charged overdue fees for items owned by other Minuteman Library Network libraries?

Items that are checked out at the Robbins Library or Fox Branch Library will not accrue overdue fines, regardless of where the material came from within the Minuteman Library Network.

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1 Response to Arlington’s Libraries are FINE FREE

  1. ascreamin says:

    Wonderful!!

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