Wilmette Public Library is Fine Free!

Exciting news: we are Fine Free! Starting July 1, we will no longer be charging fines on overdue items checked out at our library. 


What does it mean to be fine free?

Wilmette Public Library is no longer charging fines for overdue items to any patrons (including those who visit us from other libraries) who check out those items at our library.


What if I currently have overdue fines on my account?

We have removed all existing fines for overdue Wilmette Public Library materials and we will no longer be charging fines for any materials checked out from the Wilmette Public Library in the future.


What are some of the benefits of going fine free?

Being fine free removes barriers to accessing the library and helps us provide a more equitable experience for all people in our community. We want to encourage people to enjoy coming to the library and we believe that assessing financial penalties for late items is counterproductive to this goal.

Being fine free improves the checkout process by allowing our staff focus on more positive interactions with patrons. We want people to be excited about coming to the library, rather than worried about whether or not they owe a fine. We hope to welcome back anyone who felt discouraged about using the library because of a fine on their account.


Do items still have due dates?

Yes, each item will still have a due date, and you are still responsible for honoring the due date or renewing the item.  When you return items on time, it helps your neighbors borrow items sooner. To help you return items on time, we can send you reminders by email. You can set up email reminders in your library account.


How will overdue items be treated now?

While you will no longer be charged a fine, after a Wilmette Public Library item is two weeks overdue, your account will be blocked from any further checkouts until you return the item. The account block includes checking out physical items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.), as well as access to our digital collections (including downloads from Libby, Hoopla, Kanopy, etc) and research databases.

If an item is more than 45 days past due, you will need to either return the item or pay the replacement cost to unlock your account.

Items borrowed from other libraries are subject to the lending policies of their home libraries.


Can I still be charged if I check out an item from a library that hasn’t gone fine free?

Yes. If you check out an item from a library that has not gone fine free, you can still be charged a fine from that library. However, many area libraries have already made the decision to eliminate overdue fines, and others are considering it. Some of the area libraries that are fine free include Chicago, Evanston, Lake Forest, Niles-Maine, Northbrook, and Skokie.


How will the library recoup the funds received from late fees?

Fines account for only a very small percentage (approximately .3%) of our operating budget, and this number has decreased over time. When we implemented our popular auto-renewal policy in 2018, we saw a dramatic reduction in overdue fines.


Will I have to wait longer for popular items to be returned?

Libraries that have gone fine free have not seen any difference in when items are returned. Most items are returned within a week of their due date.


What is the Library’s new policy on overdue materials?

Each item still has a due date and borrowers are responsible for honoring the due date. If an item is more than two weeks (14 days) overdue after all permitted renewals are exhausted, borrowers will be restricted and will not be able to check out any additional items. Once the item is returned, the restriction is removed from the borrower’s account.

Borrowers will be blocked and not be able to check out any additional items if the account:

  • has accumulated fees and charges in excess of $10;
  • has items over 14 days overdue;
  • has lost items on the account;

Items not returned after 45 days overdue will be billed at the cost of replacement. If the borrower returns material after the account is settled, the replacement cost will be credited back to the account.


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