Fine Free is Worry Free

Friday, July 31, 2020

It’s 5:30 on a Thursday afternoon. You’ve still got to drop the dog off at the pet sitter’s, pick up your kids from soccer practice and stop for gas so you don’t have to get it in the morning when you head out for the long weekend with the family.

But… these books are due today and the library is on the other side of the pet sitter, soccer field and gas station.

No worries! Jacksonville Public Library is now overdue fine free. Take care of yourself and your family and get the materials back when you return refreshed and revitalized next week.

Whether you need a little more time to finish that hot novel, get caught up in an unexpected situation, or just plain forgot things were due, you won't get overdue fines for returning after the due date.


On April 28, the City of Jacksonville, Mayor Curry and the City Council voted to eliminate overdue Library fines retroactive to March 2019 as part of the City's COVID-19 economic stimulus ordinance (Ordinance 2020-235).

Then at their May 21, 2020 meeting, Jacksonville Public Library's Board of Library Trustees voted to eliminate all outstanding overdue fines and extend the overdue fine free period until *December 31, 2020.

UPDATE: The Board of Library Trustees extended the overdue fine-free period until April 30, 2021.


Jacksonville Public Library uses money collected from overdue fines to fund valuable capital projects—including the upcoming renovation of children's departments at Webb Wesconnett Regional Library and Highlands Regional Library.  However, the Library estimated due to the age of many of the fines, it was unlikely it would collect as much as 10% of the outstanding $2.6M. The Board felt the immediate benefits of enabling more than 100,000 households to again access the tax-supported library resources outweighs the potential future applications of those fines. This is especially true in light of the economic impact to the community of COVID-19.


"In many cases, someone who has an overdue fine on their account will avoid using the library, even though they may really need it to support their child’s education, improve their chances of job or small business success or to learn something new that makes their life better," says Library Director Tim Rogers. "The library needs to be as easy to use as possible, especially now that so many people experience hard times. This just makes sense."


A common question is: how will you make sure people return things? Overdue fine free doesn't waive responsibility. The Library is still a place where people share access to a collection of more than 2 million items. Borrowing will still have due dates and renewal limits as always to keep things circulating. Items will be considered lost after the final due date. The library will use a recovery processes to retrieve lost materials or their replacement cost, which may include fees associated with the recovery.


At this time no decisions have been made about remaining fine-free beyond April 30, 2021. The Board of Library Trustees views the next six months as a trial period. The Board and Library hope customers will take advantage of this period of overdue fine freedom, return any long-overdue materials to their nearest library location, and start enjoying the library once again.

*The fine free period has been extended by the board until May 31,2021.


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