Why did we do it? Because access to information is a core library value.
- Eliminating punitive overdue fines removes an access barrier and ensures that everyone can learn, connect, create, and grow — equally.
Effective January 1, 2020: no fines on overdue items.
On Tuesday, December 17, 2019 the Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees passed a vote to eliminate the practice of charging overdue fines.
- Existing late fees will be cleared from all library cardholder accounts on January 1, 2020
- Borrowers will still be charged for lost or damaged items
- Replacement charges will be dropped for lost items returned in good condition
Borrower information has changed.
- Please visit our Borrower Information page to see updates to the library's borrowing policies
- Overdue items will no longer accrue late fees (yellow circles), instead on day 15 the account will be blocked (first red circle)
- Late fines paid before the change will not be refunded
- Click on each image below to enlarge for detail
|Do late fines make library items come back on time?||No. Libraries that go fine-free see no significant difference in their overdue return rates.|
|Are holds queues impacted when a library goes fine-free?||No. Libraries that eliminate fines see no difference in the length of their hold queues.|
|Are circulation rates hurt when a library goes fine-free?||No. Circulation rates tend to stay the same or increase with the elimination of fines.|
|How much money does the library make from late fines each year?||About $120,000 or 2.6% of the library's revenue has traditionally come from late fines. Subtracting credit card processing and equipment fees the total drops to $111,500 or 2.4%.|
|Does the American Library Association support late fines?||No. The ALA has come out against charging late fines whenever possible.|
|Does the library's mission statement support late fines?||From the library's mission statement: Core services without charge. We provide basic library services free of charge.|
|Are there any costs associated with collecting late fines?||Yes. There are costs with equipment and subscription fees, staff and patron time, and customer experience and perception of the library.|
|Does the elimination of fines eliminate patron responsibility in borrowing?||No. Patrons are still held responsible for the return of borrowed items in good condition.|
|Do late fines encourage patron responsibility?||It's unclear. Fines don't seem to impact return rates. Fines do allow patrons to pay their way out of any responsibility for late items.|
|What is more important for a library: encouraging responsibility or ensuring access?||Ensuring access is among our core fundamental values.|
|Are library fines equitable?||No. Library fines are a greater burden for patrons living at or below the poverty line.|
|Do library fines present an equity issue in Lawrence?||It appears so. Patrons living in lower income areas or housing have more unpaid fees and a lower borrowing rate.|
Read Eliminating Late Fines at LPL: Report to the Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees, November 2019 in its entirety here.