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Fine Free

Fine Free! No more overdue fines on book, movies, and music! Lost and damaged fees still apply.

Durham County Library is now fine free. Effective July 1, 2020, library users will no longer be charged fines for overdue materials. This is an important step in ensuring that all residents of Durham County have access to the library’s resources.

How It Works

Existing overdue fines will be forgiven and more will not accrue. That change should be reflected in your account by late July 2020. 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. Items are declared lost at 40 days overdue. See a simplified chart of Loan Policies and Privileges or our detailed Circulation & Library Fee Policy for more information.

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.”

Durham County Library joins many libraries across the country who are fine free. You can see a map of these libraries compiled by Urban Libraries Council. Additional resources on the value of fine free initiatives 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.”

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.”