Frequently Asked Questions about Library Fines

When did TRL start charging fines for overdue items?

  • October 1, 2009

Were items checked out before October 1, 2009 also assessed fines?

  • Yes, if items checked out before October 1, 2009 were returned on or after October 1 and if they were overdue, then fines were charged.  Fines were retroactive back to the due date, even if the due date was before October 1, 2009.

    EXAMPLE:  If a library item was due September 25, 2009 and was returned on October 1, 2009, then the patron was charged a fine for September 26 through October 1 and $0.15 per day, or a fine of $0.90 for the 6 days overdue.  

Why does TRL charge overdue fines?

  • Overdue fines encourage patrons to return library items by the due date, making them available sooner to other patrons and reducing the amount TRL has to spend for additional copies of popular items.
  • Overdue fines help alleviate recent budget problems and support ongoing library services.

How much is the overdue fine?

  • $0.15/day for each item for each loan period.

Will I still be able to check out items and place holds if I have overdue fines?

  • You can check out items as long as you owe less than $10.00. (This limit was increased from $5.00 to $10.00 on September 1, 2010.)
  • The $10.00 limit includes fines that have been billed (for items that have been returned or renewed) plus any fines for items that are overdue but have not yet been returned or renewed.
  • If your account has been sent to the collection agency, you cannot check out items or place holds until your record is completely cleared of all fines and fees.

How can I avoid overdue fines?

  • Return or renew items you have checked out by the due date.

Can patrons be reminded about due dates before items become overdue?

  • Patrons who receive TRL email notices receive courtesy "Due Date Reminders" four days before an item is due. Patrons are encouraged to keep their due date receipts and/or track due dates another way since there can be no guarantee of email delivery. To sign up for email notification:
    • Ask library staff to sign you up for email notification.
    • Call Ask-A-Librarian at 704-4636 in the Olympia calling area or 1-800-562-6022.

How do I renew items?

  • Ask library staff to help you renew items.
  • Visit and click on Library Catalog. Enter your library card number and PIN in the upper right corner, then click on My Account in the blue welcome box and renew items in your account.
  • Call Telecirc, the library's automated calling system (586-1599 in the Olympia calling area or 1-800-582-9703).
  • Call Ask-A-Librarian at 704-4636 in the Olympia calling area or 1-800-562-6022.

Can I renew items?

  • You can renew an item you have checked out two times if no one else has a hold on it.
  • The renewal period is the same as the original loan period and is calculated from the day you renew.

How do I pay my fines or fees to TRL?

  • Patrons can pay fees online either from home or on library computers using Visa or Mastercard credit and debit cards. Staff cannot take credit and debit card payments.
  • Payments can be made by cash or check at any of Timberland's 27 libraries. Make checks payable to Timberland Regional Library or mail a check to Timberland Service Center, 415 Tumwater Blvd. SW, Tumwater, WA 98501 care of Service Center Circulation.

Is there a maximum overdue fine?

  • The maximum overdue fine is $4.20 per item for each loan period.
  • If you renew an item, that starts a new loan period.

How is the maximum fine calculated?

  • $0.15/day will be charged for each item for 28 days, i.e., to a maximum of $4.20/item.
  • When an item is 28 days overdue it is considered "lost" and you will be billed for the full replacement cost of the item.

When are overdue fines charged to my library record?

  • Overdue fines begin the day after an item is overdue.
  • A bill is created on your library record when an item is checked in or renewed.

When can I pay overdue fines?

  • You can only pay overdue fines after you have returned the overdue item and the library staff have checked it in or after you have renewed the item. At that point the system generates a bill on your record. You cannot pay fines until a bill is created.

Are the overdue fines the same for all types of library materials and all library cards?

  • Yes, fines are the same for all materials and all patrons.

Will I be charged a fine if I return an item to the book drop the day it is due but after the library closes?

  • No, you will not be charged an overdue fine. The library will check in the item the next day the library is open but will "back date" items that came in through the book drop.

Will I be able to see how much I owe in overdue fines in the online library catalog?

  • Yes, as soon as an item is overdue you can see fines on your library record.

What if I lose an item and pay for it, then find it and return it?

  • If you find and return an item that you paid for within one year of the date of payment, your account will be credited the amount you paid to replace the item and a refund check will be sent to you from the TRL Administrative Service Center. It takes two to four weeks to receive the check.
  • Library staff cannot give you the refund in the library.
  • Collection agency fees are not refundable.