Fine Free FAQ

WE’RE GOING FINE-FREE!

Effective July 1, 2020, borrowers will not be charged overdue fines for Valley Libraries locations in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro and existing overdue fines will be waived. The three Valley Libraries are thrilled to remove this barrier to our resources and to provide more equitable library access to everyone in our communities.

Why eliminate fines?

Research (see below) has shown that overdue fines are not effective in encouraging the return of library materials. Instead, fines can quickly become a barrier to using the library. We know that life happens sometimes and it can be difficult to return items on time. But we don’t want overdue fines to discourage patrons from the invaluable free technology, literacy, and lifelong learning resources that our libraries offer.

How does it work?

Due Dates

Every item checked out will still have a due date. Please remember that someone else may be waiting for an item, so bring it back on time. You will be receiving more frequent reminders about overdue materials.

Overdue Items Only

Our fine-free initiative applies only to overdue items. Fees for damaged or lost items will still be charged to cardholder accounts. (Suggested link to borrowing policy/schedule of fees here.)

Blocked Accounts

Once your card reaches a total of 10 overdue items, your library account will be blocked. When that happens, you will not be able to check out more items or access certain digital content until the overdue items are returned.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I have a card with old late fines on it. Can I still use it?

Yes! All existing overdue fines have been waived. Some patrons may still see charges for lost or damaged items. Please get in touch with us if you have questions about your account.

What about the lost revenue that overdue fines generated? How can I support the library? We appreciate your support! You can directly support us by donating to the Friends of the Augusta County Library!

I found an item that I’m being charged for as “lost.” Can I bring it back?

Yes, please do! There won’t be any overdue fines, but you may still be responsible for a processing fee depending on how long it’s been “lost.”

What about hold times? Will I have to wait forever for my item?

We regularly run reports to let us know what the most popular titles are so that we can purchase additional copies of hot items. Patrons will be receiving additional and more frequent notifications about overdue items to encourage them to return materials. Plus, items with holds may not be renewed.

Why did you decide to eliminate overdue fines?

In January 2019, the American Library Association (ALA) passed a resolution that asserted overdue fines are a barrier to equitable access and encouraged libraries to eliminate them. The ALA is our largest professional organization and we give serious consideration to their resolutions.

In going fine-free, we are joining the ranks of many other public libraries across the nation. In the lead up to this decision, we carefully reviewed studies and articles about eliminating fines. Some examples of these include