The Joliet Public Library has announced that it will no longer charge fines for overdue materials on most of their collection. The library’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of this policy change on August 20, 2020 in order to break down barriers to library use in the Joliet community.

Fines also turn a positive customer service experience into discussions about penalties and loss of privileges, which library patrons annually pay for with tax dollars. Many times, patrons do not owe lost materials, but are instead blocked from additional library use due to owing fines. In addition, the library is not dependent on fine revenue to fund the collection or core services.

Under the new fine free policy, patrons will still be encouraged to return materials in a responsible and timely manner, but they will no longer be charged daily overdue fines on most items. Interlibrary loans, Playaway Launchpads, Most Wanted Collection and video games will still accrue daily overdue fines. Patrons will also still be responsible for replacement charges for lost or damaged items. The fine free policy will apply to future fines. Amnesty opportunities for past fines will be available soon.

The library’s new borrowing structure will also include:

Amnesty Initiatives: Trade canned goods or other material donations for previously issued fines to donate to local food pantries and animal shelters. 

Materials 7 Days Overdue: Patron account will be blocked at 7 days overdue and billed for the replacement cost at 14 days overdue.

Increasing the fine threshold from $10 to $50:  Blocked patron accounts will not be able to check out materials when replacement costs reach $50. 

With these new measures in place, the library hopes to extend their services, reach more library users and welcome back those who haven’t visited in some time due to unpaid fees.