Richmond Memorial Library Goes Fine Free

While the Richmond Memorial Library is the 119th public library in Connecticut to go Fine Free, library users often have questions about what this means.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Why has the library stopped charging overdue fines?

Studies have shown that overdue fines are actually a major barrier to large numbers of people, including children, low-income individuals, and seniors on fixed incomes. Oftentimes, when overdue fines accumulate on someone’s card, they simply stop using the library altogether. As a community organization with the mission “to serve the Marlborough community’s evolving personal, educational, and cultural needs,” that is the exact opposite of what we want. We want all members of the community to use the library equally. And we are not alone. Libraries across the state and country are going “fine-free” to remain useful and relevant, foster equity, and promote easy access to lifelong learning for all.

Any other reasons?

Yes! We want our interactions with you, our patrons, to be pleasant and productive. Rather than “nickel and diming” you at the checkout desk, we would prefer to spend that time recommending great new reads, planning events, and opening a world of possibilities for our community.

Our community is stronger and healthier when all people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals, regardless of their ability to pay for them.

Will everything be free from overdue fines?

All materials checked out at the Richmond Memorial Library will be fine free. This means they will not accrue overdue fines. However, patrons who do not return library materials 3 weeks past their due date or return materials that are damaged will be charged the replacement cost of the item(s). Once materials are returned in good condition, the replacement cost will be removed from your account. If a Marlborough resident uses their library card at another library in Connecticut, they must understand that that library’s loan rules are followed. 

What if I have old overdue fines on my account?

Richmond Memorial Library overdue fines have already been wiped off your account for a fresh, clean start. However, you are still expected to return all overdue items that are on your card or pay the replacement cost for the item(s). As long as we get back the materials from you in good condition, the replacement fees are removed from your account. The Richmond Memorial Library does not have the ability to waive charges from other libraries. 

What if I have fines from another library?

You are still responsible for paying overdue fines to other libraries that charge them. All items borrowed from other libraries while at another library (or by dealing with that library over the phone or email) are subject to the lending policies of the owning library.

If you check out or renew items while visiting another library in the Library Connection, Inc. (LCI) consortium, you could still be charged fines based on that library’s fine policy.

What if my privileges are suspended at another library in our consortium?

Your borrowing privileges at all consortium libraries must be in good standing to check out materials from the Richmond Memorial Library. This means, if you have a lost or damaged item from another library, you must still make things right with that library.

I’ve always considered my overdue fine to be a donation to the library. If I return my items late, can I still do that?

Absolutely! Both cash and checks are accepted by staff working at the circulation desk.

Will I still have to pay for printing and photocopying?

Yes. While overdue fines are punitive, fees for printing, faxing, and photocopying help us to recoup the cost of providing those services and associated materials such as printers, copiers, paper, and toner.

Won’t the library lose a lot of revenue?

Fine revenue accounted for a negligible portion of the library’s total revenue, with most “income” resulting from fees for printing, copying, and faxing.

Won’t people just check things out and never return them?

“No overdue fines” does not mean “no responsibility”. If your item is overdue more than one loan period (plus additional automatic renewal periods, if the item has no holds), then the item will be assumed lost, and you will be charged the full replacement cost of the item. If the total replacement cost of one or more item(s) is $25 or over, your card privileges will be suspended until you return the item(s) in good condition OR pay the replacement cost. 

Don’t overdue fines encourage people to return items on time?

There is no evidence that shows this to be true. In fact, when the Chicago Public Library eliminated overdue fines in 2019, they saw a 240% increase in the number of items returned. Also, if library fines worked the way they were intended, revenue would be $0 anyway because all materials would be returned on time.

Adapted from the Plainville Public Library’s FAQ sheet.