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24 Feb 2020

The Free Library of Philadelphia goes fine free

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February 24, 2020 Category: Local Posted by:

The Free Library of Philadelphia is now fine free and will no longer charge fines for overdue materials.

This initiative not only helps them meet their mission of advancing literacy, guiding learning, and inspiring curiosity in a bold new way—it also ensures that they provide equal access to books and materials to every one of our customers.

Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions that the FLP has posted on their website:

Will my existing overdue fines be forgiven, even if I have materials at home that are long overdue?

They sure will! We want to put overdue materials back into circulation so that they can be enjoyed by more customers, so when you bring back those overdue books, DVDS, and CDs, we’ll forgive any related overdue fines. This doesn’t just apply to materials that are a day or a week late — if you’re still hanging on to a book you checked out before cell phones were a thing, we’ll gladly take it back, waive the overdue fines, and remove any related lost fees, too! (And, of course, all overdue fines for materials that you’ve already returned have been wiped from your account.)

Can I return materials that the Library considers “lost”?

Yes! Once the “lost” materials have been returned, any overdue fines and replacement fees affiliated with them will be removed from your record. Our goal is to get our materials back so that they can be enjoyed and checked out by more customers!

What happens if I don’t return my materials by the due date?

As is the case today, users with overdue materials will be blocked from further checkouts until either returning or renewing eligible materials. And while we’ll remind you via email that we’d like Library materials back, once materials are overdue by more than 30 days, we will assume that they are lost and bill you for their cost. Once the cost of your lost materials totals $5 or more, you will be unable to check out physical materials, place holds, or request Interlibrary Loans until the materials have been returned, replaced, or their lost fees paid. You are of course still welcome to visit the Library, check out digital materials, participate in programs, and use our computers and Wi-Fi!

Will lost or damaged fees also be forgiven?

No. Because we need to replace lost or damaged materials, customers are still responsible for costs associated with those materials. You also have the option to provide a copy (in good condition, of course!) of the item that was lost or damaged instead of payment.

How will the Library encourage people to return their overdue materials?

We will provide an emailed reminder three days before materials are due and 10 days after they are overdue. After 30 days, we will assume that overdue materials are lost and notify the customer. At that point, the customer will be responsible for the cost or replacement of the materials. Once the cost of lost materials totals $5 or more, customers will be unable to check out physical materials, place holds, or request Interlibrary Loans until the materials have been returned, replaced, or their lost fees paid.

How will the new fine-free policy affect the holds list?

Many libraries that have gone fine-free have actually seen a big increase in the return rate of overdue materials, and we’re anticipating the same happy result! The Library is also in the process of upgrading our sorting technology, which means holds and materials in transit will be getting into our customers’ hands at a faster rate. And, as always, our team will continue to monitor the holds list and purchase additional copies of popular materials as necessary!

How do I get a library card, or replace the one I lost?

Visit your local library or sign up for a new card or replace a missing one.

For more information, call 215-686-5322, or visit:

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