After a successful year-long pilot that ended in June 2021, Burlington Public Library is fines-free forever! BPL stopped charging daily overdue fines in March 2020 to help reduce barriers to accessing library collections during pandemic-related closures. We will continue to charge fees for items that are lost, damaged, or overdue for 30 days or longer.
Automated notifications are sent by email or telephone, if requested:
- 2-day advance courtesy notice (email only, no telephone notification)
- 1st overdue (7 days)
- 2nd overdue (14 days)
- 3rd overdue (21 days)
- Bill notice (30 days overdue)
Please return items on time and in good condition. If no one is waiting for an item on loan to you, try to renew it. Most print and audiovisual items can be renewed up to 10 times.
If you cannot renew the item, please return it promptly as a courtesy to others waiting for it. Items that are unreturned 30 days after the due date are considered lost and you will be billed a replacement fee.
We are grateful to those who treat due dates, library collections, and other customers with respect. In place of a fine penalty, you can choose to Pay It Forward with a voluntary contribution to the library – see Related links below
Fees for Lost or Damaged items
Our aim is to have overdue items renewed, returned, or replaced.
- An item is considered lost when it is 30 days overdue.
- A non-refundable replacement fee is billed to your account for each lost or damaged item.
- If you find the lost item before paying the replacement fee, we will accept the item and remove the fee from your account.
- If you find the lost item after paying the replacement fee, you can keep the item.
When you owe more than $0: You can no longer borrow physical items, such as hard or softcover books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, etc.
When you owe $50+ and your item is still unreturned 59 days after the 30-day bill notice is sent: A collection agency will contact you to collect the missing item or the replacement fee. The agency will not credit report, but they will charge you $15 for their services.
The replacement fee is equal to the retail price of the item when it was purchased by the Library.
If you want to replace an item that you borrowed and either damaged or misplaced, please ask staff if you have any questions about these like-for-like conditions:
- Item must be in brand new condition.
- Item must be in the same format as the original item (for example: hardcover, paperback, large print, DVD, Blu-ray, specific videogame platform).
- ISBN/UPC must match that of the lost/damaged item.
- DVDs/Videogames/Books-on-CD/CDs must be in original plastic-wrapped packaging to be considered new.
Why doesn’t the library collect overdue fines?
Fines can create a barrier that discourages people from using or returning to the library. We strive to be inclusive and equitable, and fines disproportionately affect people based on background or economic status in a way that doesn’t align with our values.
How will the library survive without revenue from fines? Are my taxes going to increase?
Fine revenue has been decreasing for years. With digital collection use on the rise, this downward trend will continue. We are proactively making this change to improve access, remove barriers, and make sustainable financial decisions for the future.
Will I have to wait longer for my holds?
We looked at what other fines free libraries are experiencing, and typically wait times for holds are not affected. We’ve also changed how we purchase for the collection, so now we can buy more copies of items with many holds. This means more popular items and, hopefully, less wait time.
How will young people learn to return books on time?
All items still have due dates, and families can use due dates and library accounts to teach responsibility, but without the added stress and impact of financial penalties.
What will stop someone from keeping books well past their due dates now?
Many other libraries in North America have already gone fines free, and they report that they’re not seeing an increase in late returns. We’re confident that due dates will be largely followed. We are not charging overdue fines, but we still charge fees for items that are lost, overdue by 30 days or more, or damaged.
I have paid my library overdue fines for years. Will I get my money back?
Thank you for borrowing responsibly. This is a change we are making moving forward. We will not refund past overdue fine payments.
I’m returning that book right now, it’s not lost!
When items are overdue for 30 days or longer, our system assumes they aren’t coming back and charges the replacement cost. The charge will disappear as soon as we check-in the item.
The library is important to me. Can I still pay you what I would owe?
Absolutely! We’ll treat your voluntary fines payment as a donation to the library. Our system no longer calculates fines, so you can donate any amount you wish. Your gift will help build our library collections. Visit the Pay It Forward link below for more information—and thank you!