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Fine free

Durham County Library is fine free! As of July 2020, we no longer charge fines for overdue items. This is an important step in ensuring that all residents of Durham County have access to the library’s resources.

How it works

No fines are charged for items that are returned late.

There is still a charge for any lost or damaged items, including a $5 processing fee. Items are declared lost at 40 days overdue.

Existing overdue fines from before July 2020 have been forgiven.

See our borrowing and accounts page for more info.

Why it’s important

Durham County Library’s fine free initiative was adopted by the Durham County Board of County Commissioners as part of the 2020-2021 budget. The move is in alignment with the American Library Association’s 2019 “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity.”

With this move, we joined many other libraries across the country who are fine free. You can see a map of these libraries compiled by Urban Libraries Council. More info on the value of fine free initiatives is available at

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.”

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.”