We Are Now Fine-Free

What does it mean to be fine-free?

We are free of fines and we do not impose late charges on our materials. The Marion Public Library Board of Trustees and staff want to ensure that everyone has access to the library’s resources in as barrier-free way as possible. Fines also tend to penalize more vulnerable individuals or families who can’t afford them. We want ALL people to be able to use our resources without money creating a barrier.

Why have we gone fine-free?

It’s good for our community! Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. Libraries are a place open to anyone and everyone. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.

When you walk through our doors, we want to do our best to help you, not hassle you about a late fee. Going fine free makes a trip to the library more pleasant for both you and our staff.

Have other libraries eliminated late fines?

Many libraries across the US, including the New York Public Library Systems and many of our neighbors in our OWWL Library System have adopted fine-free policies, and the number is growing every day.

Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that:

  • Library card registrations increased
  • Borrowing of materials increased
  • More library items were returned
  • Students returned to the library to use homework resources
  • Staff time was redirected from fines handling to patron-focused services

Do any items have late fees? 

No! ALL library items are free from late fees!

What happens if I have current outstanding fines on my account? 

If you have outstanding late fines currently on your Marion Public Library Card account, they will be forgiven beginning May 1,2022.  This process may take a while, but eventually ALL Marion Public Library patrons will be free from fines.

What happens if I have current outstanding lost or damaged fines on my account? 

Replacement costs attributed to lost or damaged items will not be waived with late fees. However, if you have charges for lost or damaged materials, please speak with us and we will work with you to find an equitable solution. We want everyone to be able to use the library’s services and materials.

Won’t late fines keep people from returning items on time?

Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. Once someone has a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries that have removed late fees report few adverse effects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Other libraries have even experienced an increase in return rates after the adoption of fine-free policies.

Will there still be due dates?

Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Be respectful of your fellow library users who may be waiting for items to be returned. Bring back materials when they are due so that everyone has equal access to our collections.

What if I borrow items from another OWWL Library System member library?

Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine. The Marion Public Library is not charging late fines on items we own or that are borrowed from other OWWL Libraries and checked out at our library.

What happens if someone doesn’t return their items?

If items are not returned by their due date, they will be considered late and must be renewed or returned. If five or more items are overdue, borrowing privileges at the Marion Public Library will be suspended until the overdue items are returned. Patrons will be sent overdue reminders asking them to return the items via email at 1, 2, and 4 weeks. If items are overdue by eight weeks, patrons will be charged for the replacement cost of the item. At that point, patrons will be sent a replacement cost bill.

How will this affect the library’s budget?

While the library is always carefully watching its bottom line, any loss of overdue fine revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for our Marion community. In 2021 overdue fines accounted for about 0.14% of the library’s overall revenue budget, and going fine-free will not significantly impact the budget moving forward. In addition, due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines), along with other factors, fines simply are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. With “auto-renew,” late fines were impacted by items being automatically renewed and were not equally assessed.

Is there another way to financially support the library?

Yes! Please consider donating directly to The Friends of the Marion Public Library. All donations go towards supporting the library’s services and programs.