Warren Public Library is Officially Fine Free on January 1, 2024!

In 2023, Warren Public Library celebrated 150 years of serving our community. In 2024, we’re looking to the future of library service by eliminating daily fines for overdue Warren Public Library materials. Not only will these late fines not be charged moving forward, but all Warren Public Library patrons will see any existing daily late fines removed from their account.

Public libraries are a place that offer equitable access to everyone in our community. Late or overdue fines have created barriers that discourage people who cannot pay their fines from using the Library. In eliminating fines, the Warren Public Library encourages all users to come back to the library, as well as attract new users to experience our resources, services, programs, and offerings.

At other libraries, this policy change has had positive outcomes. It can result in increased customer visits and circulation. Data shows that it does not result in longer wait lists or a big increase of overdue materials. 

You should know, however, that the library will still charge fees for lost or damaged materials. Any item more than 21 days overdue will result in your account being billed for that material, along with a $5 processing fee. Checkout periods have not changed. Your materials will still have due dates.


What exactly is a fine?
Fines are charged to an account when a material is late or overdue. This fine will no longer be charged.

What does it mean to be fine-free?
Fine free means that your account will not be charged for daily fines for overdue materials that belong to the Warren Public Library.

Will the library still charge fees? What’s the difference between fines and fees?
Yes, the library will still charge fees. Fees are different from fines.

Fines are charged when an item is late.

Fees are costs assessed when materials are long overdue, lost, or damaged. A $5 processing fee per item will be charged to your account when materials are not renewed or returned within 21 days of their due date, have been lost, or have been returned damaged.

The library will also continue to charge for photocopies, printing, meeting room rentals, and lost items.

Why eliminate fines?
Research shows that fines are not effective in encouraging the return of materials, but instead fines can become a barrier to people using the library.

Due Dates, Renewals, and Returns

Are there still due dates on items? Should I return my overdue materials?
Yes to both!

Materials will have due dates. You are expected to return or renew materials in a timely manner, as others are sometimes eagerly waiting to enjoy those items too. The Warren Public Library will send several due date and overdue reminders to our patrons. Please make sure that your email is up-to-date on your account so that you don’t miss these notifications.

What happens if I have overdue books?
You will be notified if you have overdue materials once they are 7 days late and again at 14 days late. If the materials are not returned within 21 days of the due date, you will be charged a replacement fee and a $5 processing fee per item. You will not be able to check out further materials until the item(s) are returned or the replacement cost is paid. For both of these instances, you will be required to pay the $5 processing fee, regardless of whether or not the item is returned. Items that are more than 60 days overdue cannot be refunded the cost of replacement.

Replacement fees vary depending on the item.

If I have overdue materials, can I continue to check things out?
No. You must return or, when possible, renew overdue materials before you can check new materials out on your account.

What about Interlibrary Loan (ILL) items?
Interlibrary Loan items, as well as materials owned by other libraries in the Seneca Library District, are subject to the fine and cost replacement structure of their originating libraries. The replacement costs for these materials will be determined by the owning library. You must still call Warren Public Library to renew interlibrary loan materials.

What about materials that I borrow from other libraries within Warren County?
All five county libraries operate independently of one another and have their own hours, budgets, policies, and procedures. Therefore, if you borrow materials from another county library and do not return it, you may still accrue late fines on those materials, regardless of whether you return that material to Warren Public Library.

Will eliminating fines stop people from returning their books?
Studies have shown that late fines are not effective and actually stop people from using or returning to the library. Libraries who have adopted fine free policies have reported few problems and increased usage.

Can I still renew items?
Please do!

What about hold times? Will I have to wait longer for my item?
Fine free libraries report similar return rates. Some have even experienced an increase in returns after the adoption of fine free policies. When customers have late fines, they are less likely to visit the library again. The public library model depends on trusting relationships between customers and valued community resources. As always, the library will monitor wait times and holds-to-copy ratios and make adjustments, as necessary.

Don’t overdue fines generate revenue for the library?
Fine revenue makes up less than one percent of Warren Public Library’s operating budget. Library services will not be impacted by this change. In addition, the good that this policy will do for the community cannot be measured.


If I just paid off my fines, will I get a refund?
Refunds will not be given for overdue fines paid prior to January 1, 2024.

But what if I didn’t mind paying late or overdue fines?
No worries! If you would like to pay your late fines, even though you don’t have to, please show your support by making a donation to the Warren Public Library.