Government Reader Contributed

West Hartford Public Library Is Now Fine-Free

West Hartford Library, Noah Webster branch. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The West Hartford Public Library has eliminated most fines as of July 1, 2023.


As of July 1, 2023, West Hartford Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines for most library materials. The library believes that we should be fine-free in order to fulfill the library’s mission and support the town’s efforts to provide equitable services to all residents.

Going fine-free means that the library will no longer collect overdue fines on books and other materials returned after their due date. The primary reason for this change is to reduce barriers to library services, particularly for low-income residents, children, and families.  Fines can discourage patrons from borrowing materials or using the library entirely, impacting those who could benefit the most from the library’s resources.

Overdue fines represent a very small percentage of the library’s budget. In fiscal year 2022, the library collected just under $21,000 in fines, which was 0.63% of the library’s total budget. Additionally, some fees will still be collected for lost or damaged items that need to be replaced.

In 2019, the American Library Association (ALA) passed a Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity.  In the resolution, the ALA states that “monetary fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services.”  Once the financial penalty is removed, people who had previously stopped using the library are more likely to return and take advantage of the library’s resources.

Many libraries across the country have gone fine-free and seen numerous benefits, including:

  • Increases in library card registrations
  • Increases in circulation
  • Increases in the number/percentage of materials returned
  • Increases in the number of students using the library for homework
  • Increases in positive association with the library among patrons, especially children and low-income community members who feel more welcome

There are over 120 libraries in Connecticut that have gone fine-free. We are excited to join our peer libraries and fulfill our vital role of providing free access to information for all residents, regardless of their ability to pay fines.

For more information about going fine-free, including Frequently Asked Questions, please click here: https://bit.ly/44uZgYm.

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