Special Edition - January 4, 2023

Howland Library Goes Fine Free

Message from the Director

At the November Board of Trustees meeting, members voted unanimously to end fines for all materials here at Howland Library, effective January 1, 2023.

Research has shown that fines do not prevent patrons from returning books late, but they do create barriers to service for some. You can read more about it on the American Library Association’s website. Howland Public Library will no longer be charging fines for items returned late or for holds not picked up. Lifting this barrier is a significant step for us being able to fulfill our mission of providing free and equitable access to information for all our community members.

Q: What items are considered fine free?

A: All items, including Library of Things and Museum Passes.

Q: Are there any exceptions?

A: Yes. Special order Interlibrary Loan items are not considered fine free and are still subject to overdue fines set by the owning institutions. These are items from outside of the Mid-Hudson Library System, such as universities or institutions outside New York State.

Q: Does fine free mean I can return a book whenever I want?

A: No. Library items still have due dates:

  • 3 weeks (21 days) for Books – Juvenile, YA, & Adult Audiobook CDs
  • 2 weeks (14 days) for DVD series and sets, Library of Things items
  • 1 week (7 days) for DVDs, Music CDs, Magazines
  • Various loaning periods for Museum Passes (typically two days)

We also have automatic renewals through the Mid-Hudson Library System. If no one is waiting on an item you have checked out, the item will be automatically renewed up to two times.

Q: Does this mean people will never return books?

A: Replacement fees still apply for lost and damaged items. Patrons owing $10 or more in replacement fees will not be able to check out items until the balance is below $10.

Q: How does fine free work with items from other Mid-Hudson libraries?

A: All items checked out at the Howland Public Library are fine free, even if it is from another Mid-Hudson library.

Q: Are there other fine free libraries?

A: Yes. In the Mid-Hudson Library System, as of December 2022, there are a total of 51 fine free libraries, including Howland, and four (4) partially fine free libraries. That means that almost all of the 66 libraries in our system are fine free. The full list is available online at https://midhudson.org/fine-free-libraries/.

Q: Will the library lose a lot of money by eliminating fines?

A: No. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, overdue fines accounted for $1,000 or 0.07% of library's budget.


This is one of the many exciting new changes coming to the library in 2023. We hope for a year of growth, learning, and exploring with our patrons. If you have any questions that were not answered here, please see our website at https://beaconlibrary.org/finefree/ or contact the library and the staff would be happy to assist you.




Kristen Salierno, Director

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