ITHACA, N.Y.(WENY)-- On January 14th, the Tompkins County Public Library officially became fine free. This means that now, even if you return your library materials after their due date, you will no longer have to pay a fine. Part of a growing trend in libraries around the country, the move to eliminate fines aims to welcome patrons back who may have been unable to borrow materials due to their cards being blocked because of fines. Transportation and parking in Ithaca can be difficult, which can make it difficult to return materials on time. Now, without the fines, there is not as much stress on materials being a day or so late.

"Fines are a barrier to access. We hear over and over again from people can't afford fines that they simply don't use the library, and from people who can afford fines that they keep materials as long as they want. So fines don't work," says Annette Birdsall, Tompkins County Public Library Director. 

So now that the fines have been lifted, library staff has noticed more patrons coming back and rejoining their library community. But. they hope they hope that patrons will continue to try to return items in on time. Other patrons do sign up to be next in line for materials. 

"I like to say we're fine free, it's not a fine free for all. Materials still have to come back and we respect our readers to do that so the materials are returned as people would return them anyway," says Birdsall.

What this means for the public is that the library will still send you reminders to return your items on time. Past replacement fees and processing charges for lost or damaged items still apply but, if a patron has overdue fines from TCPL that were accrued before the shift to fine free, they will be waived from the patron’s account. For more information on how the library has gone fine free, click here for more information.