We Are Going Fine-Free!
What this means
Over the past several years, many public library systems throughout North America have begun to examine the true value of charging fines for overdue materials. Overdue fines were meant to deter people from returning material late. However, studies show that fines may actually increase the likelihood that library material does not get returned at all, and that they create barriers that prevent people from ever using their public library.
We want everyone to be able to access their public library without having to worry about financial penalties if they bring back materials a few days late. Overdue fines create a barrier for those who are most in need of our services. With this in mind, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library Board decided that eliminating fines would be a way to provide greater access to all of our services and resources and to welcome back members we may have lost over the years.
Fine-free policies will take effect January 1, 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifies as an overdue fine?
Overdue fines – also called late fees – are charged per day on any item not returned by its due date. We temporarily stopped charging overdue fines as part of the Library's COVID-19 response. They are now being permanently eliminated as of January 1, 2021.
Please note that this initiative does not apply to fees related to lost or damaged items. Fees will still apply in these circumstances.
What does going fine-free mean for me?
Overdue fines will no longer be applied to your account, but you are still responsible for returning everything you borrow. Please do your best to return or renew your items on time, as someone else may be waiting for them.
Sign up for e-notifications to stay in the loop! You’ll receive reminders notifying you when your items are almost due as well as when you have reservations ready for pickup. Library staff can add your email address to your account, or you can do it yourself in the Details section of the My Account feature on www.kfpl.ca.
Will outstanding overdue fines be waived?
Yes! Library staff are already at work clearing fines from patron accounts. Fees for lost items will still apply.
What library items qualify for fine free?
All of them. We will no longer charge overdue fines on any item. Replacement costs will still apply for lost or damaged items.
How will this initiative change the experience at the library?
If you've never had overdue fines or you've had them but have been able to easily pay them, you might not notice a difference at all. But for the 913 patrons with blocked accounts, or the 16,326 patrons who have fines, going fine-free will make a huge difference. It will also mean that staff will have more time to answer your questions, help you find materials or assist you in using our online resources.
How do I get my card unblocked?
If your card is currently blocked for overdue fines, they will be removed from your account.
If it has been more than 2 years since your account information was updated, we may need proof of address to renew your card. If coming to the Library in person isn't possible for you right now or if you have a balance on your account that you cannot pay, get in touch with us and we will work with you to find a solution.
Please be aware that COVID-19 policies will impact returns. Material may stay on your account for up to a week due to quarantine periods. These quarantine periods were taken into account when setting the schedule for overdue notices, account blocks and invoicing.
How will the Library encourage people to return items on time?
Most items are returned by their due dates! Life does get in the way sometimes, so we will send two overdue notices before a block is placed on the account once items are 21 days overdue. The block is lifted once items are renewed or returned.
Items will be marked as lost on your account if they reach 45 days overdue and replacement fees will be applied. You won’t be able to borrow anything if that happens, or use online resources such as cloudLibrary or Hoopla, until the item is returned or the replacement fee is paid.
All library branches accept payment by cheque. If your account has been blocked, please give us a call at 613-549-8888 and we'll do our best to assist you.
I didn’t really lose items that are still on my account, can I still bring them back?
Yes, bringing back items will remove replacement costs from your account and allows you to borrow again.
What if I lose or damage an item?
A replacement fee will be added to your account for the lost or damaged item. If you owe $20 or more, you will be blocked from borrowing until the fee is paid. Information about loan periods, limits and replacement costs be found here.
What notifications will I get when material is due?
For patrons who receive email notices, you will get a courtesy notice 3 days prior to the due date. The first overdue notice is generated once an item reaches 8 days overdue, the second one at 18 days overdue, and then an invoice is issued at 45 days overdue. COVID-19 quarantine periods have been taken in to account in setting these timelines.
I thought of fines as a donation to the library. Can I still donate to the library?
Yes! The Library gratefully accepts donations and issues tax receipts for donations of $10 or more. Donations can be made at any library branch or online.
How can I get a library card?
You can sign up online or in person. All details about getting a card can be found here.
I have a card, but haven’t visited the library in years. Will my library card still work?
Library accounts must be renewed every two years. Please contact the library so we can help you reactivate your account.
What is the impact on the Library's budget?
Overdue fines represent less than 1% of the library’s operating budget, and the amount we have been collecting has been declining due to the increasing popularity of online resources, which don't generate any fines. It also costs us money to collect fines - all of those small transactions add up to a lot of staff time. We have requested additional funding from the City of Kingston and County of Frontenac to help offset the loss of revenue.
Do you have a question that isn't answered here?
Ask staff at your local branch, give us a call at (613) 549-8888 or submit it through our Contact Us form.