Eliminating Overdue Fines

Why is TRL eliminating overdue fees?

Timberland Regional Library prioritizes connecting to our communities and ensuring that we’re providing equal access for all. Research has shown that overdue fines act as a financial barrier for many people and disproportionally impact low-income and minority communities.

What does this mean for me?

Starting January 1, 2020, TRL will no longer be charging overdue fees on our collection. You are still responsible for ensuring that items are returned by the due date. An item that remains overdue for longer than 28 days will be considered lost, and you will be responsible for either returning the item or paying a replacement fee for the item.

What will happen to people who already have library fines?

After January 1st, we will work with our system vendor on removing existing overdue fines. Until those fines are removed, your local library staff will assist you. Fees for lost and damaged items will remain on patron accounts.

What will prevent people from keeping library items forever?

Patrons will be charged a replacement fee for items that are more than 28 days overdue, and accounts with more than $15 in fees will have their borrowing privileges suspended. Patrons will need to pay down their fees or return items to have their borrowing privileges reinstated.

Does this mean there will be fewer new items purchased for the library collection?

No! In fact, the books and collection budget for 2020 has increased by 3.3% for 2020 (2020 Final budget).

How does eliminating fines affect TRL’s budget?

Eliminating fines can often encourage patrons to return items that have long been overdue, which would decrease TRL’s cost in replacing lost items.

Library fines represent a small percentage of TRL’s overall revenue, and this percentage has declined over time. With the increased popularity of our digital collection (which has always been fines-free), this decline in fines revenue would likely continue. In 2017 library fines constituted 1.3% of revenue. That number dropped to 1.1% in 2018, and fines revenue is expected to drop below 1% for 2019 (2020 Final budget). Data collected within our system indicates that it is costing more in staff time to collect overdue fines than TRL receives in fines revenue.

Will I have to pay for a library card now? 

Library cards will remain free of charge for those that live, work, or attend school within our service area. Yes, replacement cards are still free as well!