Fine Free and Fine Forgiveness

Over 8,500 customers who have overdue fines haven’t used the Library in five years. It’s time to welcome them back.

The Richmond Hill Public Library Board has made the decision to go fine free permanently, which means you’ll no longer be charged fines for overdue materials. As of January 8, 2022, we've stopped collecting fines for overdue materials, and we've also forgiven any existing overdue fines. 

Fines can create significant barriers to accessing our services. Over 8,500 customers who have overdue fines haven’t used the Library in five years. Eliminating existing fines through our fine forgiveness program allows us to welcome back customers who may have stopped using the Library due to overdue fines, and remove any fear or barrier toward accessing our services. 

To support the circulation of our collections, replacement fees will still be billed to customers who have not renewed or returned items for four weeks. These fees will automatically be waived once the item is returned in good condition.  

 I still see fines owed on My Account. What should I do?

Overdue fines are just one of the bills that may be charged to your library account. Others include bills for lost or damaged material, and processing fees or administrative fees when a significantly overdue item is sent to our collections agency. Overdue fines are the only fees that are waived through our fine forgiveness initiative, and relate to fees that were charged when borrowed material were returned after their due date. These fines will be forgiven and removed from customer accounts by January 8, 2022. 

Bills for lost material are charged when material still has not been returned or renewed for 4 weeks after its due date. At that time, RHPL considers the item lost and bills customers the replacement cost of the item as well as a processing fee. Bills for lost material are removed from a customer’s account once the item is returned to the Library in good condition. 

I have questions about charges on My Account

We’re available to help you in person, over the phone (905-884-9288), through email or live chat. Click on the green Ask Us button to the right to connect with us. Remember to check our Reopening webpage for the latest information on what’s open, closed and online, as well as information on our current safety protocols.

I've recently paid my overdue fines. Can I get these funds back?

Any fines paid prior to January 8, 2021 will not be returned to customers. The money you have paid to the Library will go directly toward supporting the development of library programs, services and collections

Weren't you already fine-free?

During the pandemic, the Richmond Hill Public Library Board made the decision to go temporarily fine-free for 2020 and 2021. During this period, it was determined that going fine-free did not negatively impact the circulation of our materials. In June 2021, the Board then accepted the recommendation to go fine free permanently. 

Does the Library lose revenue or earnings by not collecting overdue fines?

Some public libraries rely on fines to support their operational costs.This is not the case for RHPL; fines consist of less than 1% of the Library’s net budget, and collecting fines also requires staff time and resources. When factoring in the amount of staff time required to process fines, the amount of fines collected did not result in a financial gain for the Library. 

If there are no fines, why am I receiving overdue notices?

While you won't receive fines for overdue items, you'll still be expected to renew or return your items to the Library when they are due. By returning your items, other community members will also be able to enjoy the book, DVD or other item you've checked out. Any item that has not been returned or renewed four weeks after its due date will result in the customer being charged replacement costs for the item. These costs will be waived once the item is returned in good condition.