Poudre River Public Library District Goes “Fine Free”

In 2018, the Library District eliminated overdue and late fines on all children and teen materials. Last month, the Library Board of Trustees voted in favor of extending this practice to include all Library-owned items.

The new lending policy takes effect November 1, 2020. At the same time, staff will work to remove existing overdue fines from customer accounts. This process may take up to 2 weeks to complete.

“The new policy puts our community first,” says David Slivken, Poudre River Public Library District executive director. “We actively work to eliminate barriers to library access and encourage community-wide use of the Library’s vital materials, resources, and services. Library use is always important but even more critical now as people’s regular routines have been upended.”

What Does It Mean for Library Cardholders?

  • No more daily late fines charged on overdue items. Fees for lost or damaged materials will still apply.
  • We have waived existing extended-use fines from all library accounts, giving everyone a fresh start.
  • Nearly 15,000 people will have their accounts cleared.

Why We’re Doing It

We believe in providing equal access to knowledge and information for all.

Putting our community first.
Our community thrives when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their goals or interests, whether it is seeking entertainment, applying for a job, or researching information.

Advancing equity.
Late fines, no matter how small, are a very real and significant burden for many individuals, children, and families. Library fines worsen existing inequities that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities. This barrier can discourage many people who rely on the Library the most from coming back.

Improving literacy.
Early literacy skills are crucial to school readiness, so it is important that parents and caregivers from all income-levels in our community have access to materials they can use daily in the home to practice reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with their children. We are thrilled when we see families checking out a stack of books, and families should be encouraged to do so, rather than be fearful of the late fines that might accrue.

“Library revenue collected from overdue fines has been steadily declining in recent years, in part because of the growing popularity of digital materials but also because of the past elimination of late fines on children’s and teen materials,” says Rachel Tand, Director of Finance and Business Operations for the District. “In 2019, overdue fines made up less than 1% of General Fund revenue and will be even lower this year.”

The Library anticipates seeing a similar response to the new fine-free policy as other public libraries, including an increased return of materials and check out of items like books and DVDs. Additionally, the Library hopes to welcome back customers who have stayed away from the libraries out of concern for fines.

Additional Details

  • Overdue fines will be removed from accounts beginning November 1. This process may take up to 2 weeks to complete.
  • We encourage you to return any overdue, lost, or damaged items to the Libraries. Fees for lost and damaged items will still apply but there will be an extended grace period through the end of 2020 before accounts might be turned over to a collections agency.
  • Once lost or damaged fees reach $50.00, your library card is blocked from use.
  • If you pay for a lost item and then find it and return it to a Library Service Desk within 60 days, the Library will refund you the full amount you paid for the item.

More information about the new lending policy, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found online or by calling the Answer Center at 970-221-6740.