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Good news – RPL is going fine free!

Posted on: March 25, 2021

Libraries are at the ♥ of their communities and we have an early Valentine’s Day gift for you. On February 14, Richmond Public Library is going fine free.  Permanently removing fines supports lifelong learning by ensuring library resources remain accessible to everyone in our community throughout their lifetime, regardless of circumstance.

Richmond’s library services are designed to meet the diverse needs of all members of our community. “After 45 years of serving our community, we know that late fines can present a significant barrier to accessing the library, particularly for individuals who are vulnerable, experiencing homelessness and those with low or fixed income,” says Jordan Oye, Richmond Public Library Board Chair. “Late fines represent 1% of the library’s operating budget. The Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to support a budget that would eliminate fines and further the library’s mission to create opportunities for everyone in our community to learn, connect and belong.”

Introducing a permanent fine free model is an exciting opportunity to welcome back residents who have stopped using the library. “To date, over 270 libraries in North America have made the move to become fine free and have reported high, and even improved, material return rates,” says Susan Walters, Chief Librarian. “We’re pleased to be refocusing over 10,000 hours of staff time previously spent on late fine conversations to inviting our community to engage with us in new ways. Library staff are here to help you find your next great read, select a meaningful program to join or make a new connection.”

So how will we ensure books come back to the library on time? Don’t worry – we have a plan for that! Additional friendly reminders will help keep more of us on track and if after that, books are not returned, replacement fees will still apply. However, here’s an interesting fun fact: since the library paused late fines at the onset of the pandemic, temporarily going fine free, over 72,000 holds have been fulfilled and over 230,000 items returned!

For all the details, please visit our Fine Free FAQs on the library’s website We look forward to seeing you again soon at the library!