Peterborough Public Library Goes Fine Free!

As of September 21, 2021, Peterborough Public Library is joining the growing movement of North American libraries to eliminate late fines.

Late fines existed to encourage people to return their library materials on time. It was believed that without late penalties, people would not be motivated to return their library materials. But libraries have found that this is not the case.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the library stopped charging late fines and forgave late fines on people’s accounts. “We were happy to discover that library items continued to be returned regularly,” says Jennifer Jones, Library CEO.  “There were no noticeable changes in people’s returning habits with or without the late fines.”

Late returns are often honest mistakes. Most people return their materials on time because they know that others are waiting for them. Late fines have been shown to create feelings of shame and embarrassment, keeping people from returning 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, the library can better support literacy efforts in our community and reduce barriers to accessing library materials and services.

As part of implementing the fine free service model, the library has removed past overdue fines from everyone’s accounts. “If you’ve been avoiding the library because you think you might have fines, we want to welcome you back to the library with a clean borrowing record and a fresh start,” says Jennifer Jones, Library CEO. “Technology isn’t perfect, so if you notice fines on your account after September 21, please reach out to library staff. We may have missed something, or you may have fees for lost items on your account.”

Fine free library service doesn’t mean that borrowers can keep materials forever. Items will still have due dates and need to be returned. An item is considered lost when it has not been returned for more than 44 days past the due date. At that point, the member’s account is charged a replacement fee and a processing fee for the item. Any member with more than $10.00 in fees will be blocked from using their account. Visit ptbolibrary.ca/borrowing for full details on how the library handles lost and damaged items.

To help remind members to return items, the library offers a few options to receive library notices, including overdue notices. Ask a library staff member at any of the check-out desks to add this feature to your account.

The library’s mission is to inspire our community to be more literate and engaged. The move to a fine free library service will allow:

  • 11,927 members will have late fines removed from their accounts
  • 1,694 members will have their library accounts unblocked
Pay it Forward

For anyone who considered their late fees to be a donation to the library, you can still make a similar contribution of support and get the benefit of an official charitable tax receipt.  You can donate to the library online through our website: https://forms.ptbolibrary.ca/Online-Donations