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Forest Park Public Library is Fine Free!

Great news! Beginning in May, the Library will no longer be charging fines on overdue items checked out at FPPL. 

What does fine free mean?

FPPL is no longer charging overdue fines on any items checked out at our Library. This includes items checked out at FPPL by patrons from other libraries, as well as items that are owned by other libraries but checked out at FPPL.

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 the 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 to 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 returning that item.  Most items will renew automatically up to two times if there are no other holds on the item. (See loan periods here)

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 or text. You can set up email or text reminders here or call 708-366-7171.

How will the Library get items back without overdue fines?

While there are no fines, patrons still have motivation to return items. Anyone with 11 or more items overdue by one or more days or bills totaling $25 or more will have their account blocked. This block will keep patrons from checking out other physical items until the items are returned or paid for.

What if I currently have overdue fines on my account?

We will remove all existing fines for overdue FPPL materials and we will no longer be charging fines for any materials checked out from the FPPL in the future. This does not include replacement fees for missing or damaged items. If you visit another Library that has fines and checkout items, you may accrue fines if the items are not returned on time. This does not count items from other libraries that are delivered and checked out at FPPL. 

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

While you will no longer be charged a fine, you may be charged fees if an item is not returned.  

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 $25
  • Has 11 or more items overdue for one or more day

For instance, if you have 11 or more items checked out and do not return them by their due dates, your account will be blocked the following day. After 42 days, your account will be billed for these items as “lost” materials. However, at any time, if you return the items, the block and bills will be immediately removed upon check in. Items that are not returned and remain overdue on the account for 365 days or more, are not eligible for waiving of replacement fees if returned. 

The account block includes checking out physical items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) but will not block digital downloads or online resources. 

If an item is more than 42 days past due, you will need to either return the item or pay the replacement cost to unlock your account. If you are having a difficult time paying the fee, please contact the Patron Services Manager at ccorzine@fppl.org

Items borrowed at other libraries are subject to the lending policies of the checkout library.

What is the difference between a fine and a fee at the Library?

The Library will no longer be charging accounts a fine which is a daily amount charged for each day a Library item is overdue. Fees are replacement costs for items that are damaged or not returned. 

Can I still be charged fines if I check out an item from a Library that isn’t fine free?

Yes. If you check out an item at 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 go fine free or are temporarily fine free during the pandemic. Area libraries that are fine free include Oak Park Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and the River Forest Public Library as well as many others in the Library’s consortium. 

What happens if I return an item after I received a bill for it?

If you return the item, the charges will be removed. *Items overdue for more than a year may not be eligible for waiving of replacement bills. 

How do I pay a replacement fee online?

Log in to your Library account and click on Fines to pay your fees. 

Why does my Library account still have a balance from my old fines?

We are working to remove all old fines from FPPL patron accounts. If there is a balance on your account it is likely a fee for an item that was lost or damaged. If you have questions, please call and speak with the Patron Services Department at 708-366-7171 or email askus@fppl.org.

Will Library materials come back more slowly?

Research and recent experiences from libraries that have eliminated fines show that overdue fines do not affect how fast people return materials. Return rates actually tend to stay the same before and after libraries go fine free. 

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

Fines are not supposed to create usable income for the Library, they are intended to encourage patrons to return their materials in a timely manner so that they can be recirculated. Unfortunately, this isn’t how things always work and many patrons, including children, have small fines on their cards that prevent them from using the Library and often don’t get paid. The actual income that the Library makes from late fees represents less than .05% of our overall operating budget and we don’t rely on that small amount for operations. We have determined that the fines are mostly serving as a deterrent and contribute to inequity. Since the income is not essential to our operations, we don’t need to recoup it. We see this as a win-win.

Does fine free apply to me if I check out items from the FPPL but don’t have an FPPL card? 

Yes and no. All items checked out at the FPPL will be fine free, however, when your card might be blocked if an item isn’t returned will depend on your home library. It’s best to reach out to your home library for detailed information.