MFPL Goes Fine-Free

At their December 2019 board meeting, the library trustees unanimously approved going fine-free on a trial basis starting Jan 1, 2020.  This program was extended through 2021 due to the Covid pandemic


Daily late fees will be eliminated on most materials.  Borrowers will simply be charged full replacement value for items overdue by 60 days. Daily overdue charges will still apply to museum passes, iPads, and hotspots that are returned late.  Fine-free also applies to materials owned by the Millburn Library only.  If you borrow items from another BCCLS library and that library still charges late fees, you could still face overdue charges for late returns.  See FAQs below. 


Many libraries nationwide, including several nearby, are fine-free.  Studies show that fines do more to keep people away from the library than to actually bring materials back.  Going fine-free improves access, especially for children, and improves the image of the library.  Libraries that have gone fine-free report very little trouble with unreturned materials.


Fine Free FAQs:



What does fine-free mean?

It means just what it says.  With very little exception, items owned by and borrowed from the Millburn Free Public Library will not accrue daily overdue charges if they are returned late.  Exceptions are noted at the end of this FAQ list. 


Why the change?

Fines are barriers to access, particularly for children and for people with limited means.  Eliminating daily overdue fines means users will not lose access to their library and the resources they want and need just because of a late return.  By eliminating overdue fines, the MFPL is also taking a big step toward meeting its strategic goal of delivering excellent library service in a helpful and fair manner.  Finally, eliminating fine collection will allow staff to focus on other service-related tasks while also giving you one less thing to worry about.  


Are there still due dates?

Yes, items will still have due dates and they will be printed on your checkout receipt.  Please return any items that you borrow by their due dates so that others will be able to borrow them. 


What will motivate people to return library items if there are no fines?

Borrowers will be billed full replacement value for any items that are 60+ days overdue.  Delinquent bills will be referred out to Transworld Systems Collection Agency (TSI).  Also, the checkout system will block an account with 10 or more overdue items. 


What if I have some overdue items at home that are really late?

Amnesty for existing fines is a part of the program, as long as the items are from the Millburn Library.  If you have a book, DVD, or other item that is long overdue, please bring it back and we will see about waiving the charges associated with that item. 


What if I have overdue fines on my account from previous transactions?

Come to the circulation desk with your library card and we will review your account with you.  If there are overdue charges on your account for Millburn Library items, we will waive them for you.  If you don’t know where your library card is, come with your ID (such as your NJ driver’s license) and we will access your account, waive any eligible charges, and issue you a replacement card. 


Won’t eliminating overdue fines hurt the library’s budget?

Overdue fines currently amount to about 0.4% of the Millburn Library’s operating budget.  The library will be able to adjust its spending with little to no impact on the operation or on library services. 


What items still have overdue fines?

There are four items that will continue to accrue overdue fines:  museum passes, iPads, Wi-Fi hotspots, and items borrowed from other libraries that still levy overdue charges.  Overdue fines will still be levied for these items because they are high demand, because other patrons depend on their prompt return, or because they are not our items.  The Millburn Library cannot waive charges imposed by another library's policy.