Pittsboro, NC – Effective July 1, 2021, Chatham County Public Libraries (CCPL) will begin a one-year pilot project to eliminate all late fees for overdue library materials. Replacement and processing fees for lost or damaged materials will remain in place. Overdue fees also will remain in place for items borrowed from other libraries through CCPL’s Inter-library Loan (ILL) program.
The goal of the pilot is to remove barriers to accessing library services while also increasing service equity for all Chatham County residents. It is not anticipated that the availability of materials or customer satisfaction with wait times will be impacted.
Additionally, all previous late fees on library materials will be waived for patrons. This change should be reflected in patron accounts by late July 2021. No future fines will be charged for materials that are returned after their due dates. The fine-free model will be in effect at all three library branches.
As stated by the 2019 American Library Association’s (ALA) Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity, “…monetary fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services” and that collecting such fines, “… does not serve the core mission of the modern library.”
“This is a project we’ve worked long and hard to implement. We are confident that in doing so library card adoption and usage will increase,” said Chatham County Library Director Linda Clarke. “We want Chatham County residents to know that everyone is welcome at the library and that removing barriers to access is a primary goal.”
A recently published Chatham County Public Libraries Needs Assessment Report lists fine-free policies as a way to promote access to library services. Clarke hopes that the one-year pilot will lead to a fine-free system permanently adopted as county policy.