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Fines Eliminated on Overdue Books and Materials at Rochester Public Libraries

Once upon a time, a library patron faced daily fines for overdue books and materials borrowed from the Rochester Public Library (RPL). That time has now ended.

As of July 1, 2023, book lovers may freely – literally FREELY – check out books at their favorite branch of the RPL without facing penalty or fines if they are late in returning the borrowed materials to the library. And, of course, the materials can be returned to any RPL branch of choice.

RPL says it this way, “Finally, Fine Free–and for good!,” in a press release addressing the new policy.

In 2017, RPL began a pilot program where fines were eliminated for children’s and young adult materials. According to the RPL, “increased library use by patrons” resulted from the 2017 move. Perhaps this new shift in approach to book and other material loans in RPL circulation may bear similar fruit.

Currently, RPL patrons are encouraged to return any overdue items and check out something new from any RPL location.

“This is your invitation to return to the library, regardless of how long you have had something overdue,” said Associate Director of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Jennifer Smathers.

It is being called “judgment-free” and “fine free” by RPL.

“With the mayor’s support, RPL is absorbing anticipated fine revenue loss to further enable a prosperity mindset for our families and the city by eliminating barriers to literacy, technology, and other resources,” Smathers said.

Replacement costs for long-overdue items, processing fees, bills for damaged and missing parts, and fees for printing, copying, and other services remain in place.


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