As of January 3, 2023, all fines on overdue materials were permanently eliminated, and fines on customer's records are waived. The decision to do so was made unanimously by the Library Board. The library had eliminated fines for children's and teen materials in July 2017 to support the educational development of children and teens in our area, and suspended fines on adult materials in March 2020 due to the onset of COVID and the difficulty in accepting returned materials. CRRL had not reinstated fines since, and has now taken this major step towards improving access. Fees will still be charged for lost or damaged materials.
"Eliminating fines supports CRRL's mission of inclusivity and is an important step in making the library even more accessible." - Diana Risavi, Chair, Library Board
"Studies have shown that low-income individuals and families are disproportionately affected by overdue fines, with people of color even more so. Eliminating fines allows us to address this inequity and remove a barrier to access." - Martha Hutzel, Library Director
Studies have shown that eliminating fines reduces financial barriers and improves access for everyone.
“Overdue fines do not distinguish between people who are responsible and those who are not--they distinguish between people who have or do not have money.” - Curtis Rogers, former Communications Director of the Urban Libraries Council
Eliminating fines also often results in an influx of returned materials from cardholders whose accounts had previously accumulated fines, and increased requests for library cards from residents who would otherwise be concerned about accumulating fines. This move also makes financial sense--there will be significant savings in staff salaries which were required to collect and process fines, and the small amount of lost revenue will be addressed with other strategies.
Currently, 51% of Virginia public libraries have eliminated fines for all age levels, including Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Richmond, and Williamsburg.
CRRL is proud to join this movement of eliminating overdue fees to increase inclusion and lower barriers to access.