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Durham County Library No Longer Charges Fines for Overdue Materials

Durham, NC – Durham County Library is thrilled to announce our libraries are now fine free. Effective July 1, 2020, library users will no longer be charged fines for overdue materials. Existing overdue fines will be forgiven and more will not accrue. This change should be reflected in library users’ accounts by late July. Ending overdue fines is an important step in ensuring that all residents of Durham County have access to the library’s resources.

Durham County Library joins many libraries across the country who are fine free. The move is in alignment with the American Library Association’s 2019 “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity.” Resources on the importance of removing library fines are available at https://endlibraryfines.info.

NPR reported on libraries removing overdue fines and found that for many libraries, “Lifting fines has had a surprising dual effect: More patrons are returning to the library, with their late materials in hand. Chicago saw a 240% increase in return of materials within three weeks of implementing its fine-free policy last month. The library system also had 400 more card renewals compared with that time last year.”[1]

Durham County Library’s fine free initiative was adopted by the Durham County Board of County Commissioners as part of the 2020-2021 budget. While library users still have to pay to replace lost or damaged items, including a $5 processing fee, no fines will be charged for items returned late.

Durham County Library Director Tammy Baggett-Best said, “It has long been a goal of our libraries to go fine free. We are committed to being an organization that creates equal access to resources. Too often late fees create barriers for members of our community and keep customers from returning to our libraries. We want Durham County residents to know everyone’s welcome at the library.” Learn more about the Fine Free initiative at DurhamCountyLibrary.org/FineFree.

Durham County Library’s mission is to encourage discovery, connect the community, and lead in literacy. The library is a department of Durham County Government. For more information about the library, visit DurhamCountyLibrary.org.

[1] Bowman, Emma. (2019, November 30). National Public Radio. “‘We Wanted Our Patrons Back’ – Public Libraries Scrap Late Fines To Alleviate Inequity.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/11/30/781374759/we-wanted-our-patrons-back-public-libraries-scrap-late-fines-to-alleviate-inequi

Contact: Stephanie Bonestell
919-560-0151 or sbonestell@dconc.gov

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