Peterborough Library no longer charges late fines for overdue library materials, with the exception of Interlibrary Loan items.

We are part of a growing movement in North American libraries to eliminate late fines. Over the last few years, hundreds of libraries have eliminated some or even all their late fines.

Why Go Fine Free?

Late fines were originally created to encourage people to return their library materials on time. It was believed that without late fines acting as a penalty, people would not be motivated to return their library materials.

It turns out this isn’t true, most late returns are just honest mistakes. In fact, many people return their materials on time because they know that others are waiting for them.

Late fines can create feelings of shame and embarrassment that keep people from coming back to the library. Late fines can also create financial barriers that prevent people from ever using the library in the first place. 

By eliminating late fines, we can better support our community, and reduce barriers to accessing library materials and services.

By switching to fine free service:

  • 11,927 members no longer have late fines on their accounts
  • 1,694 members have had their library accounts unblocked

As a bonus, now that we’re not spending time worrying about late fines, we have more time to pursue the library’s real mission: inspiring our community to become more literate and engaged.

How is This Going to Work?

As of September 21, 2021, all late fines have been removed from our member’s accounts. If you’ve been avoiding the library because you think you might have fines, we would like to welcome you back with a clean borrowing record. If you notice fines on your account after that date, please reach out to library staff by phone or email. It’s possible your account was missed or that you have fees for lost or damaged items on your account. 

Everyone who borrows materials from the library is still responsible for returning their materials on time so that others in our community can use them. Items that have not been returned for over 44 days are considered to be long overdue. These items will be marked as lost and a replacement fee will be added to your account.

Accounts with lost materials will be blocked from further borrowing until the material is returned or the replacement fee is paid.

We don’t want things to get that far, so to prevent materials from becoming long overdue, the library will send regular reminder notices by phone, text, or email to encourage timely returns.

We’ve Tested This Out

The COVID-19 pandemic gave us an unexpected opportunity to test out fine free service in Peterborough. To make sure everyone could access library materials during this difficult period, we stopped charging and forgave late fines on people’s accounts. We were happy to discover that library items continued to be returned regularly. There were no noticeable changes in people’s returning habits with or without the late fines.

Pay it Forward

Many people have told us that they don’t mind paying their late fines. They’ve always considered their late fines to be a donation to a great cause!

Under the fine free service model, you can continue to make these same contributions with the benefit of an official charitable tax receipt. 

Make a donation to the library