Fine Free FAQs
When does fine free begin?
Starting June 1, 2021, the library will officially be fine free. However, no fines have been charged since the library shut down due to COVID19 on March 17, 2020.
What does it mean to be fine free?
Fine Free does not mean that you get to keep your items forever. The library does want its materials back. Fine Free does mean that when materials are returned late (in a reasonable time frame), you will not be charged any late fees. (See 'If there are no fines, what keeps me from not returning items?' below).
If you check out materials at another local library that is not fine-free, fines will still be charged.
What happens to late fees already on my account?
They will be removed. Fines from checkouts at other libraries that are not fine free will not be waived. However, bills for lost or damaged items will not be removed.
Will you still receive notices when checked out items are coming due or overdue?
Yes, you will receive the same notices you had prior to Fine Free. You can have these delivered by email if we have your current email address, or ask us about signing up for Shoutbomb to have them delivered by text.
Do items still have due dates?
Yes, there is still a due date. You will also still be able to renew your item online, on the phone, or in the library , as long as no one else is waiting for that item.
If there are no fines, what keeps me from not returning items?
We hope that you will return your items in a timely fashion because that makes the library work at its best to serve everyone in our community. However, there are still consequences if you don't return items. After your book is 3 weeks past its due date, or your movie is 7 days past its due date, the items is considered LOST and the cost of the item will be charged to your account. A $5 processing fee is also charge to your account for each item. At this time your card will be blocked.
What does it mean to have my card blocked?
It means that you will not be able to check out items or have access to our digital collections (Libby, Overdrive, and Axis360).
Can I still use the library if my card is blocked?
Yes, the library facilities, services, and events are open to everyone.
What happens when an item is returned after it is billed to an account?
The bill for the replacement cost will be removed from the account if the item is returned. Any processing fee will NOT be waived.
If a patron pays for an item and then finds it, can they return that item for a refund?
Yes if it is an El Paso Library owned item and is returned within 30 days of payment, the patron will be credited or have their payment returned. Any processing fees will NOT be returned. If an El Paso library owned item is returned after 30 days of the payment, the patron will not be credited because the library would have already repurchased the item.
If the item is owned by another library, we will have to call the owning library and follow their policies for this situation.
Does this eliminate all fees?
No, you will be charged a replacement fee for items that are lost or damaged. A processing fee will also be charged.
Will this impact the availability of popular items?
Libraries that have gone Fine Free have not seen any significant difference in when items are returned. most items are returned with in a week of their due date.
Will taxes increase as a result of going Fine Free?
Happily, the answer is no! Fines account for only a small percentage of our operation budget (less than 1%) and this amount has decreased over time.
Why is this a good idea for our library?
Being Fine Free removes a barrier to access our materials and helps us provide a more equitable experience for all people in our community. We want to encourage people to enjoy coming to the library and we believe that assessing financial penalties for late items is counterproductive to this goal.
Some people have found fines are an easy way to give back to the library While we're not collecting fines anymore, we are happy to accept donations. Look for the donation jar next to the checkout counter. Thank you for your support!