Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (behind podium) announces the elimination of late fees throughout the Chicago Public Library system on September 30 at Woodson Regional Library with CPL Commission Andrea Telli (center, holding paper) and American Library Association Executive Director Mary Ghikas (right). (Photo: Stephanie Hlywak/American Library Association)

Chicago Public Library Goes Fine-Free

September 30, 2019

Starting October 1, CPL will eliminate overdue fines on all CPL-owned items currently in circulation, which it said will remove barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons. CPL’s data shows that one in five suspended library cards citywide belong to children under age 14. The data also indicates the disproportionate impact … Continue reading Chicago Public Library Goes Fine-Free


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

Unintentional Inequity

March 1, 2019

Libraries rarely design services to specifically exclude certain patron groups, but exclusion is often the unfortunate result of not considering the unique needs and circumstances of all community members. For example, after my son was born, I noticed that my local library offered programs for babies and toddlers only on weekday mornings. This made their … Continue reading Unintentional Inequity


An Overdue Discussion

June 1, 2018

Point: Jenny Paxson, readers’ advisory librarian, Webster (N.Y.) Public Library Does your library charge fines? We do charge fines at Webster Public Library. How are the collected funds used? We use the funds—$71,000 collected from fines annually—as part of our operating budget. Without them it would be difficult to run the library. Do fines discourage … Continue reading An Overdue Discussion


Imagining A Fine-Free Future

February 11, 2018

Gretchen Caserotti, director of Meridian (Ida.) Library District, began by asking the standing-room-only crowd why libraries charge fines. Answers ranged from“It’s a revenue stream for the city” to “It’s a tool to teach responsibility to younger patrons.” She said there is little research to support these, according to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library … Continue reading Imagining A Fine-Free Future


Doing Away with Fines

June 25, 2017

Ryan Buller, access services librarian at the University of Denver, presented research conducted by Brigham Young University (BYU) Head of Patron Services Duane Wilson, who was unable to attend the conference. Wilson had surveyed 76 large academic libraries in 2012 and found that 75% were charging fines; however, since the survey failed to distinguish between … Continue reading Doing Away with Fines


Los Angeles Public Library patron Dennis Levin returned The Story of Scotch, a book he checked out in 1950, during the library's recent fine amnesty campaign.

Fine Amnesty Campaigns Bring Rewards in Chicago, L.A.

February 23, 2016

CPL’s “Welcome Home” program ran from February 4–18, while LAPL’s campaign, “LAPL Misses You,” was held February 1–14. The libraries waived late fees on all materials during the campaigns. CPL’s 80 branches received at least 20,000 items, worth about $500,000. This was CPL’s third time holding a fine amnesty program—the first was in 1985 just for … Continue reading Fine Amnesty Campaigns Bring Rewards in Chicago, L.A.