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The Owen County Public Library is now permanently fine free!

We’ve removed overdue fines once and for all. Moving to a fine-free model is in line with what library systems across the country have enacted based on extensive research which concludes that overdue fines do not ensure the return of borrowed items. They do, however, keep patrons from accessing valuable services.

The library has not charged overdue fines since March 2020 due to the pandemic; we have decided to keep with that model and be fine free permanently.  Lost and damaged item charges still apply.

In 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution stating that fines “create a barrier to the provision of the library and information services” and urged systems to eliminate them. But what does going fine free mean for you? Read on to find out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does fine free mean?
There are no longer overdue fines on books, movies, audiobooks, and music CDs.

Does that mean you can keep items forever?
No, items still need to be returned so that everyone may enjoy them. Please continue to return items on their due dates. Materials more than 30 days overdue will be considered lost and a replacement fee will be charged.  Having charges on your account may prohibit you from checking out additional items.

Why are you eliminating fines?
Fines often penalize already vulnerable individuals who can’t afford them – the very people who often need the library most. We want everyone to feel welcome in the library and be able to use our resources to unlock their full potential. Our role is to provide equal access to the programs, services and materials patrons need to pursue their goals without creating unnecessary financial barriers.

I have a card with old fines on it. Can I still use it?
Absolutely! All overdue fines have been waived. Please get in touch with us if you have questions about your account.

What are the benefits of going fine free?
Library systems that have eliminated overdue fines experienced positive results, including increases in circulation and the number of people using their library. Other benefits include improving patron relationships with the library; redirecting staff time toward patron-focused services rather than handling fines; students returning to use homework resources and increased library card registrations.

Will I have to wait longer for my holds?
Research indicates that fine-free libraries have not experienced an uptick in late returns; rather, they have seen declines. Wait times for materials should not increase. Our staff will continue to regularly watch hold lists and order additional copies of popular materials when necessary.

How can the library afford to do this?
While there is a very small loss of revenue, fines were never supposed to be a major revenue source for the library. Fines were in place to encourage people to return items. We hope that people will continue to return items in a timely manner without the penalty of a fine.

I have a question that isn’t answered here.

Contact us and we will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.

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