Lima Public Library Goes Fine Free!

The Lima Public Library is happy to announce that the library will be Fine Free for all materials, effective January 3, 2023. Patrons will no longer accrue fines on books and other materials returned past their due dates. This fine free policy applies to everything the Lima Public Library loans out, except the museum/park passes and mobile hotspot device(s). Any existing fines have been forgiven.

We believe in providing access to knowledge for all

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, pose a 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 public computers 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.

Fine Free Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be fine free?

It means exactly what it says: we are free of fines and we do not impose late charges on our materials. The Lima Public Library wants to ensure that everyone has access to the library’s resources in as barrier-free ways as possible. Fines also tend to penalize more vulnerable individuals or families who can’t afford them. We want ALL people to be able to use our resources without money creating a barrier.

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. Our library is 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 fine. 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.

Have other libraries eliminated late fines?

Yes! In the U.S., the number of libraries that have adopted fine free policies is growing every day. Lima Public Library joins 28 other libraries in the OWWL Library System that are completely or partially fine free.

What does this mean for me?

  • You will no longer receive a daily late fine on items returned after their due date.
  • You are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back! If you have five or more items overdue, your borrowing privileges at the Lima Public Library will be suspended until the overdue items are returned.
  • The library will send you email reminders to return your items, once they reach one, two, and four weeks overdue.
  • If you previously had late fines on your account from returning Lima Public Library items late, they have been completely forgiven!
  • If you have overdue fines from other libraries in the OWWL Library System, you are still responsible for these. Fines are set by the lending library. Items checked out at other OWWL Library System libraries may still accrue late fines.
  • If you do not return your items by eight weeks overdue, they will be assumed lost, and you will be billed for their replacement cost. At that point, borrowing privileges at the Lima Public Library will be suspended until the items are returned or the replacement cost is resolved.
  • If you have charges on your account for lost or damaged items, these will not be waived. However, if you have charges for lost or damaged materials, please speak with us and we will work with you to find an equitable solution. We want everyone to be able to use the library’s services and materials.

Do any items have late fines?

The items that still have late fines currently are the Empire Passes and the National Warplane Museum Passes. All other Lima Public Library items are free from late fines.

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.

Don’t late fines keep people 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 fines report few adverse effects 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.

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 Lima community. Overdue fines account for less than 0.2% of the library’s overall revenue budget, 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), the impact of auto-renewals on physical items, as well as other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Above all, it’s worth it to us to forgo potential funds from fines to remove barriers to Library use.

Is there another way to financially support the library?

Yes! Please consider donating directly to The Friends of the Lima Public Library. All donations go towards supporting Lima Public Library services and programs. Donations can be made by sending cash or check to PO Box 283 Lima, NY 14485 . You can also donate to the Friends of the Lima Public Library whenever you make a purchase through Amazon Smile.