St. Joe County Public Library is Fine-Free

St. Joe County Public Library is going fine-free!

As of January 1, 2022, the St. Joe County Public Library is fine-free! This means that you will no longer be charged a late fee when you return a book past its due date. We are also no longer charging rental fees for DVDs.

In addition, the Library is removing all preexisting late fines for all library accounts – so that everyone gets a fresh start!

As a welcoming place for all, our goal is to increase access and eliminate financial barriers that keep community members from using the library. 

We are making this change because it is the right thing to do for our community. Fines often have a bigger impact on the people who can least afford them. We want to make it as easy as possible to use the valuable resources we offer the community.

How does it work?

You will be able to check out materials just like you have in the past. Many items, including books and DVDs, will renew once automatically if you are a resident card holder, so don’t worry if you need to keep your item for longer. You can also renew items manually if you need them for even more time. Items will still have a due date and you will receive reminders about overdue materials, however you won’t be charged any late fines as long as you return the materials to the Library! 

If an item is not returned within the renewal window, you may be charged a replacement fee. Your card will be inactive until the item is returned, but all you need to do is return that item and you will be back on track.

What’s changing:
  • There will be no more late fees for overdue material.
  • All previous late fees will be waived from your library account.
  • There will also be no more rental fees for DVDs.
  • All SJCPL service area residents will receive $5/day of free printing and faxing.
What’s not changing:
  • There will still be replacement fees for materials that are not returned to the Library.

Have questions about these changes? Please reach out to us by email or by phone at 574-282-4646.

Why go fine-free?

Going fine-free has the potential to make a big difference for so many people in our community. Nearly 100,000 individuals have a St. Joe County Public Library card, and fifty-one percent of them have at least one charge on their account. As a welcoming place for all, our goal is to increase access and eliminate financial barriers that keep community members from using the library. Eliminating late fees is the right thing to do to increase access in our community.

51% of library card holders have at least
one charge on their account.

It should be easy to use the library, and that means we must remove barriers and invite people into our space. This is an important step toward making the library a more welcoming place for people to make connections, explore their interests and learn new skills.​<span class="su-quote-cite">Debra Futa, Executive Director</span>

Frequently Asked Questions

What does fine-free mean?
Fine-free means that the Library no longer charges late fines.
What happens if I checked out books or materials before January 1 that are already late?
Any late fees that have been charged to your account will be waived, and the Library will no longer charge late fees moving forward. Make sure to return the materials, however, so they are not marked as lost! 
Don’t fines encourage people to return materials on time?
Not necessarily! Studies have shown that fines don’t have an impact on return rates. In fact, individuals with fines are less likely to return to the library at all.
Why are there still due dates?
The Library depends on its relationship with people who check out and return our materials. Due dates ensure that we have materials on the shelves so that other people can borrow them. Please remember that other people may be waiting for an item, so it helps everyone to return your items on time. 
If there are no late fees, can I just keep materials forever?
You will still be charged a replacement fee for items that are not returned. If you are charged a replacement fee, you will need to either return the item or pay the fee in order to check out any new materials.
Why do I still have a balance on my library account?
Although late fees have been waived, some patrons may still see charges for lost or damaged items. Please reach out if you have any questions about your account.
What if I return an item after it has been designated as lost?
If you return an item after it has been marked lost, the replacement fee will be waived from your account, and you can continue to check out new materials.

Let us know your thoughts!

What do you think about the library eliminating fines? What impact will it have on you and your family? Let us know using the form below:

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