Norfolk Public Library to test 1 year without fines beginning July 1

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Library says it will test a fine-free year for local patrons.

Effective July 1, 2021, Norfolk Public Library (NPL) will begin a one-year fine-free trial and suspend overdue fines for late books and materials until June 30, 2022.  

During the trial period, patrons are still expected to return or renew items on or before their due date, and they cannot renew items on hold for another borrower. Fees for lost or damaged books and materials will continue, and the remainder of the Circulation Policies will stay in effect. 

At the moment, Norfolk Public Library charges 20 cents per day, per item, and up to a $6.00 maximum for books and materials. All DVDs, reference books, interlibrary loan materials, book club kits, and Toddle Totes are charged $1.25 per day and up to a $10.00 maximum.

Once items have been kept for 28 days after the due date, they are assumed lost, and the patron’s account is charged the replacement cost and processing fee. Accounts delinquent 30 or more days are referred to the Norfolk Department of Finance and a $25.00 non-negotiable fee is added, even if the items are returned.  

In 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution concluding that “monetary fines create a barrier in public relations, and absorb valuable staff time applying, collecting, and managing dues.” Fines represent less than 1% of NPL’s budget and money collected goes to the City of Norfolk’s general fund, not directly to the library. 

According to the Urban Libraries Council, over 200 libraries across the country have already adopted this method.

Often, fines are a significant barrier to patrons visiting the library and borrowing materials. Although Norfolk Public Library and Slover Library will be eliminating fines from July 2021 through June 2022, there is still a checkout period with up to two renewals.  

NPL officials say they will evaluate fines after the one-year trial.

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