Arlington Public Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

Published on July 07, 2020

library books on shelf

On July 1Arlington Public Library eliminated overdue library fines to make the library's collections more accessible to all ArlingtoniansThe goal is to increase access and minimize barriers for marginalized populations to use the library, particularly for youth and low-income patrons, which data shows are disproportionately impacted by overdue fines and stop using the library as a result.

"This permanent change will make the library more accessible to all," said Libby Garvey, Chair of the Arlington County Board. "It has been shown that library fines mostly fall on young people whose families cannot afford library fines. And that results in making the library less accessible to families with lower incomes, which is the exact opposite result that we want. I'm delighted that we are adopting this new policy."

"Every member of our community has a right to library services and library fines and fees are known barriers to use," said Diane Kresh, Director of Arlington Public Library. "We are pleased that we can eliminate these long- standing barriers and continue our mission to reach everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background."

This investment is part of the County's budget for the 2021 fiscal year, originally proposed by County Manager Mark Schwartz in February and approved by the County Board in April.

The elimination of fines will reduce the Library fine budget by an expected $155,000 in anticipated revenue to $10,000 in FY 2021. The $10,000 remains in the budget due to the continuation of replacement fees for lost items. 

Under this new policy, any patron with a balance over $15 cannot borrow, renew, place holds on materials, or log in to premium sites, such as Consumer Reports. This would only impact patrons who are charged for losing or failing to return items to the library, since overdue fines are eliminated.

Patrons still need to pay their existing fines accrued prior to July 1, 2020. 

For more information on fine-free borrowing and account information, visit the Library's Borrow, Renew and Return page.