Timberland Regional Libraries are going fine free for overdue items, but that doesn’t mean you can keep books or other items indefinitely.

The regional library group shared more details about the change in policy to encourage more people to use TRL services.

According to TRL, library fines represent a small percentage of TRL’s overall revenue, and this percentage has declined over time. With the increased popularity of our digital collection (which has always been fines-free), this decline in fines revenue would likely continue.

“In 2017 library fines constituted 1.3% of revenue. That number dropped to 1.1% in 2018, and fines revenue is expected to drop below 1% for 2019 (2020 Final budget). Data collected within our system indicates that it is costing more in staff time to collect overdue fines than TRL receives in fines revenue.”

As of January 1, all TRL libraries are no longer charging overdue item fees and all overdue fines are removed.

“Timberland Regional Library prioritizes connecting to our communities and ensuring that we’re providing equal access for all. Research has shown that overdue fines act as a financial barrier for many people and disproportionally impact low-income and minority communities.“

Despite the change for overdue items, if residents have not returned an item they will incur a fine.

Existing overdue fines are being removed, but fees for lost and damaged items will remain on patron accounts.

According to TRL, patrons are still responsible for ensuring that items are returned by the due date. Any item that remains overdue for longer than 28 days will be considered lost, and you will be responsible for either returning the item or paying a replacement fee for the item.

Patrons will be charged a replacement fee for items that are more than 28 days overdue, and accounts with more than $10 in fees will have their borrowing privileges suspended.
Patrons will need pay down their fees or return items to have their borrowing privileges reinstated.

TRL says that eliminating fines can often encourage patrons to return items that have long been overdue, which would decrease TRL’s cost in replacing lost items.