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Fine Free FAQs

Great news - we’re going fine-free!


Instead of a fine, a patron’s account will be blocked when an item is more than 14 days overdue. Patrons will be unable to borrow additional physical or digital materials if their account is blocked.

At its October 19, 2021 meeting, the Library Board of Trustees voted to implement a fine free/account block model. The Library will officially go fine free beginning November 1, 2021.

In September 2020, the Library Board of Trustees voted to establish a six-month trial period during which an account block will be used instead of charging overdue fines. The trial period ran from November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021. At its March 16, 2021 meeting, the trial period was extended to October 31, 2021, to allow for time to gather data now that Covid restrictions changed to allow circulation of materials to be more typical.

During this period, patrons are not being charged overdue fines. 



Frequently Asked Questions


What does an “account block” mean?

If items are not returned more than 14 days past their due date, the patron’s account will be blocked, and they will be unable to check out any additional items until overdue items are returned.


If there are no fines, how will the Library ever get materials back?

This does not mean that the responsibility of returning Library materials goes away. We still ask that each patron  “be a good neighbor” and return materials on the due date so other patrons can enjoy them. Or, return them as soon as possible once finished with them.

Instead of fines, we will use an account block model. Items will continue to have due dates, and if a patron doesn’t return an item within 14 days past the due date, that patron’s account will be blocked until the item is returned. When the item is returned, the account block will be lifted. 

If the item is not returned within 45 days, the patron will be billed for that item. This is current library policy.


Are other libraries doing this?

Many libraries in Illinois and this region are going fine free. In CCS, the consortium of libraries to which the Park Ridge Library belongs, 26 of 28 library members are now fine free, including neighboring libraries Niles-Maine, Morton Grove and Chicago public libraries.

In interviews conducted by Library staff, area libraries who have gone fine free shared that they had a favorable experience implementing the policies. Some libraries have determined that establishing fine free policies as a positive investment in customer service and a way to provide equitable access to the community.


What financial impact will this have on the Library? Will taxes go up?

Fine revenue represents 1.17% of the Library’s total annual revenue. Based on FY2020, that’s an estimated $32,500 a year. This year, SY2021, the Library Board has not decreased services in order to make up for this slight decrease in revenue, with the total revenue budgeted at $4.3 million.


What happens if items are lost or damaged?

The patron will be billed through their library account, and a block will be placed on the account until the item is paid for or returned.


How long can I keep an overdue item before their account is blocked?

The account will be blocked if you have not returned the item(s) 14 days after the due date.


Can I still place items on hold even though my account is blocked? 

If you have an overdue block, you will not be blocked from placing holds. The block only applies to checkout.


Will I be charged overdue fines for items borrowed from other libraries through inter-library loan?

You will not be charged for overdue fines for items checked out at the Park Ridge Public Library.


What will happen to overdue fines charged to my account prior to the trial starting?

At this time, any fines accrued prior to November 1 will remain on your account and your account will remain blocked if you owe $10 or more in overdue fines. We ask that you pay for your fines online through your account or on our checkout stations.


What about items checked out from the Exploration Library? 

Items borrowed from our Exploration Library are not included in the fine-free trial. The fine for Exploration Library items will continue to be $5 per day.