Elgin County Library is going Fine Free

Elgin County Library is very pleased to announce that starting June 1, 2022, the library will begin a phased approach to no longer charge overdue fines on library materials.

Studies have shown that there is no evidence that late fines make people return library materials on time. in fact, libraries that have stopped overdue fines report the opposite. Late fines also create a financial barrier for community members, which Elgin County Library looks forward to eliminating.

children's materials now fine free

At the February 22, 2022  Elgin County Council meeting, it was approved that Elgin County Library would start the fine free process by stopping overdue fines on children’s materials first. Adult materials will be next, with the goal of all overdue fines being gone by the end of 2024. 

The full copy of the report approved by County Council is available on the Elgin County website. 

The full media release can be found on the Elgin County website. 

Emerging from the pandemic and challenging times, Elgin County Council recognizes that providing equitable access to library materials and removing financial barriers not only responds to the needs of Elgin County residents and their library communities, but also extends the Library’s support and services for residents’ physical and mental health. For Elgin County Library, eliminating overdue fines will help approximately 1,000 customers regain access to Library services.

Elgin County Library Fine Free FAQ for Library Users

What does going fine free mean for me as a library user?

  • This means that overdue fines will no longer be applied to your library account on children’s materials starting June 1, 2022.
  • You are still responsible for any library items that you borrow and are account-able for returning your materials on time, as other customers may be waiting to use these items.
  • If an item has not been returned in an appropriate amount of time, you will not be able to use your library account or card to check out library materials, place holds, or use our digital library, including eBooks, during that time. As soon as the items are returned, your account will be usable again.
  • If an item has not been returned after a significant amount of time, you will be sent a bill for the replacement cost of the item.

How will this affect my digital eBooks and eAudiobooks?

It won’t! All eBooks and eAudiobooks are already fine free. The platforms you borrow those items from return them for you automatically when they are due.

Will I still get reminders about my library materials?

Yes! Items will still have due dates. We currently have a process that provides print and email courtesy notices and these will continue. If you have not already provided an email address, please contact your local library branch.

What if I lose a library book?

If a library item is missing or overdue past a certain amount of time then the item will be billed to the library card. This means that the library card will be billed the replacement cost of the item and prevented from checking out new items. We would rather have the library item back than your money, so if you find the item please return it and the replacement charge will be removed from the account.

What about the library item I borrowed prior to the pandemic?

Bring it back! We just want the item back and fines won’t be added to your account.

How do I know what my borrowing times are?

This information about your due dates will be on the checkout receipt for your library items. You can also find information about our loan periods and fees on our Membership & Fees page.

Will I have to wait longer for items?

No, we do not anticipate any impact on wait times. Libraries that are already fine-free do not notice a difference in how long items are overdue. There will be still be due dates on materials and email notices reminding library users that their items are due.

I think of my fines as a donation to the library, can I still make a donation?

Yes! Voluntary goodwill donations will continue to be gratefully received at all of our ten library branches. Also, you can make a donation on our Support Your Library page. Elgin County Library is a non-profit and can provide charitable donation receipt for donations over $20.

Why is Elgin County Library going fine free with children’s materials first?

Children and teens often cannot get to the library by themselves to return materials on time. This means that overdue fines punish them for something beyond their control. We encourage early literacy, and overdue fines that prevent children or teens from borrowing library items create a barrier to achieving that goal.

Other libraries have materials that renew automatically, so books are never overdue unless someone is waiting. Why doesn’t Elgin County Library do that?

This is a great suggestion. We are considering how the autorenewal of library items would fit with our fine free initiative and how it would impact library users.

Are other libraries going fine free?

Yes! All over Ontario, Canada, and North America, we are seeing more and more library systems go fine free. You can find more information about fine-free libraries on this map from the Urban Libraries Council.

I haven’t been to the library in a few years. Will my account still work?

Please come to your local Elgin County Library branch and see us. We will either reactivate your account or set you up with a new one. Welcome back!

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