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What are the fines and fees?

Starting May 1, 2022, there are no overdue fines on Chatham-owned items.  Items borrowed from other libraries will still accrue late fees if they are overdue.  If you lose or damage an item, you will be billed for its replacement cost.

But Why Did The Library Decide to Stop Charging Late Fines?

  1. Based on experiences of libraries that have been fine-free for a while, fines don’t seem to have been the incentive for people to return their library books.
  2. It’s expected to be a financial equivalent based on other libraries’ experiences.  The library will save as much money as it gained with fines.
  3. Many residents perceive fines as a judgement and, during the past few stressful years, less stress for all is a priority.
  4. Colleges are able to get materials back without fines by suspending a student’s borrowing privileges if the cost of the book they didn’t return exceeds a certain amount. Our limit is $10 and the library has the option to place patron accounts on hold and may do so if warranted.
  5. Staff time previously spent on discussing and negotiating fines issues can be put to productive use.
  6. Staff time spent sending out billing notices can be put to productive use.
  7. Income from fines has been an increasingly smaller amount since our consortium instituted auto-renewal of items. Fines are not a reliable source of income.
  8. Other local libraries are now successfully fine-free, including Somerset County Library System, Parsippany-Troy Hills Public Library System and Roxbury Public Library. Other fine-free libraries include:  Montclair, Newark, Teaneck, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Jersey City, Union, Ocean County and Hackensack libraries in NJ; New York Public, Chicago, and hundreds of other individual libraries and systems all over the country.  

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