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Fine Free Library!

Roxbury is a Fine-Free Library!

Effective January 3, 2022 the Roxbury Public Library will no longer assign overdue fines for items returned past their due date. In addition, all previously existing fines for Roxbury items returned overdue will be waived. Roxbury is the 1st library in Morris County to enact this policy.

The Roxbury Public Library Board of Trustees is dedicated to creating a library that is more open, equitable and understanding of our community.  Eliminating fines for overdue materials means more people in our community have greater access to the Library’s vital materials, resources, and services. Late fines, no matter how small, are a very real and significant burden for low-income individuals, children, and families. These kinds of financial barriers can discourage many people who rely on the Library, which means they can’t access books required for schoolwork, use library databases or job resources, or simply have a safe, open, welcoming space to visit. Library experts have found that charging overdue fines inhibits access to library materials and services. Studies indicate that even modest penalties deter people from registering for a library card or using the library because of the risk of incurring fines. Rather than motivating borrowers to return items on time, fines act as an inequitable barrier to service, disproportionately impacting minors, students and community members with limited financial resources.

Frequently Asked Questions About Being Fine-Free

1. Why have we gone fine free?

It's good for our community! Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. Libraries are a place open to anyone and everyone. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.

It’s good for our relationships. When you walk through our doors, we want to do our best to help you, not badger you about a late fee. Going fine free makes a trip to the library more pleasant for both you and our staff. Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that:

  • Library card registrations increased.
  • Borrowing of materials increased.
  • More library items were returned.
  • Students returned to the library to use homework resources.
  • Staff time was redirected from fines-handling to patron-focused services.

2. Have other libraries eliminated late fines?

Yes! In the U.S., more than 500 libraries have adopted fine free policies, and the number is growing every day. This number includes Montclair, Newark, Teaneck, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Jersey City, Union, Ocean County and Hackensack Libraries in NJ, New York Public, Chicago, and hundreds of other individual libraries and systems all over the country.


3. Won't late fines keep people from returning items on time?

Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. Once someone has a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries who have removed late fees report few adverse affects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Other libraries have experienced an increase in return rates after the adoption of fine free policies.

4. Will there still be due dates?

Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Be respectful of your fellow library users who may be waiting for items to be returned. Bring back materials when they are due so that everyone has equal access to our collections. 


5. What happens if I have outstanding fines on my account? 

If you have outstanding fines accrued on your Roxbury Public Library Card account, stop in and we will help you clear them. If you have charges from lost or damaged material, please speak with us and we will work with you to find an equitable solution. 


6. What if I borrow items from another Main Library Alliance library?

Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine. The Roxbury Public Library is not charging late fines on items we own or send to other MAIN Libraries. 


7. What happens if someone doesn't return their items?

We will still charge replacement fees for lost/damaged items, and overdue fees for museum passes and materials from the Library of Things. In the future, if an item is kept beyond its due date, we will attempt to contact the library cardholder. After eight weeks, the cost of the missing item will be billed to the library cardholder and library services will be suspended until the item is paid for or returned.

A user’s library account will be suspended if any of the following occurs:

  • 1 item is “long overdue” 45 days after the due date. Account will be back in good standing when the item is returned. 
  • 1 item is “lost” which automatically occurs 60 days after the due date. Account will be back in good standing when the replacement fee is paid.
  • 10 items are overdue for any period of time (even 1 day). Account will be back in good standing when the items are returned or renewed.

Suspended accounts cannot access any of the library’s digital resources including Libby, Hoopla, Kanopy, LinkedIn Learning, etc., nor borrow from the Library of Things. 


8. Do any items have late fees? 

A few. Items like museum passes, wi-fi hotspots and other items from the Library of Things will have late fees, but books and movies, and other items are fine free. 


9. How will this affect the library's budget?

While the Library is always carefully watching its bottom line, any loss of overdue fine revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for the community. Overdue fines account for less than 0.1% of the library's overall income and going fine free will not significantly impact the budget moving forward. In addition, due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. With auto-renew, fines are impacted by items being automatically renewed. Above all, it’s worth it to us to forgo potential funds from fines to remove barriers to Library use.

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