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Life Happens... Fines Don't

As of September 1, 2021 the Catawba County Library is "Closing the Book on Fines" and will no longer charge overdue or late fines for items that are returned past the due date. Patrons are still responsible for all other fees, including lost and damaged materials and interlibrary loan postage. On September 1, 2021 all library accounts will be reset to a zero balance with the exception of fees related to lost or damaged technology items.

As our community’s place to connect, explore and grow, the Catawba County Library believes eliminating late fees fosters a sense of community and inclusion while removing unnecessary barriers that impact our most vulnerable citizens. Late or overdue fines unfairly affect people in low-income communities who benefit the most from access to the library’s resources.

Yes. Fees are different from overdue fines. The library will continue to charge fees for lost or damaged items and inter-library loan postage. Once a patron's account reaches a $15.00 balance, that account will be suspended until the lost materials have been returned or the fee(s) are paid.

If you have library materials at home that are 3 weeks overdue the system will automatically consider those items lost and it will charge your library account with the replacement cost. If you have them at home, just bring them back to any library location. Upon return of the items, those charges will be taken off or your account. If you really can't locate the items, please contact your library to discuss options for handling lost charges.

If no one else is waiting for the library materials you have checked out, the library will automatically renew your items up to two times. However, this is not guaranteed - if someone else has a hold on that item, you will be asked to return the item on the due date.

Please note: technology items such as hotspots, laptops or tablets are NOT eligible for auto-renewal. Patrons must bring technology items back to the library on the due date or risk have technology priviledges suspended.

The library is working to improve the notification process to send earlier and more frequent reminders for people to return their materials on time or early. Patrons with checked out items will get a courtesy reminder 3 days before their due date. Then, when the item is one day past the due date, patrons will get their first overdue notice. Two additional overdue notices will be sent with a final reminder notice going out when the items are 14 days overdue. When items are 21 days overdue they will automatically be considered lost and the patron account will be charged for the replacement cost of those items.

If you would like to show your continued support for the library, we invite you to make a donation to the Library Endowment. This is a special, permanent way for you to give, because your donation of any size remains in a protected fund that continues to grow year after year. Only the interest is used, solely to benefit library services, collections, and programs. So now – and years from now – your donation is here working for your library.

Library systems who have gone fine free share that late fees do not ensure the return of borrowed materials. In fact, some have reported an increase in returns after the adoption of fine free policies. When the San Francisco Public Library held a six-week fine amnesty period, some 700,000 items were returned — including a book that had been checked out a century earlier. The library will continue to monitor wait times and make adjustments, as necessary.

The library will still charge patrons for lost or damaged items. If an item is overdue by three weeks, the borrower will be blocked from checking out any other materials until they return or pay for that missing item. When they return it, the lost item charges will be taken off of their account.

While late fee revenue is considered by some as an important source of library funding, the total revenue from late fees represents less than 1% of the library's total budget. Ensuring equitable access to everyone is worth so much more!