Goodbye Fines, Hello Library!

Greenwich Library Announces New Fine-Free Policy,
Will No Longer Charge Overdue Fines for Late Materials

 

Goodbye Fines, Hello Library! Greenwich Library is pleased to announce that it will no longer fine patrons for overdue materials, effective September 12. This policy change will remove any financial burden that may have created a barrier to entry and aims to increase access to Library resources for Greenwich residents, students, and employees.

Greenwich Library joins many other nationally recognized library systems that have eliminated fines in recent years, including the public libraries of New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and San Diego, as well as hundreds of smaller public library systems. This new mandate impacts Greenwich Library and its Byram Shubert and Cos Cob branches, as well as Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich.

“We are proud to join this growing movement by making the Library’s extensive resources truly equitable,” says Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, Greenwich Library Director. “We hope this announcement encourages everyone to make the Library a regular part of their routine—particularly now that the height of the pandemic is past us. We want to welcome everyone into our spaces.”

Effective September 12, Greenwich Library will remove all fines from patrons’ accounts, and there will no longer be any monetary penalties for returning books, DVDs, or other regular items past their due dates; museum passes will still be subject to late fines. Please note that though late returns will no longer incur fines, patrons will still be responsible for replacement fees if an item is lost or damaged.

“The Library is a public good, and we are honored to serve this community and provide as many resources and services as possible,” says Ormerod-Glynn. “But, we also count on our patrons to respect our collection and their fellow community members who might want to borrow the same materials. We trust that they will.”

As of September 12:

  • All existing fines in patron accounts will be removed.
  • Late fines will no longer accrue on borrowed materials that are returned after their due date.
  • Note: replacement fees for lost or damaged items will still apply. Refer to the Library’s website for full details.

Numerous studies have shown that accumulating fines on library accounts is one of the primary reasons low-income families and individuals stop using public libraries. “The practice is ineffective and leads to confusion among Library patrons,” says Peggy Edersheim Kalb, President, Greenwich Library Board of Trustees. “It causes unnecessary anxiety and does not support the Library’s primary mission of being a portal to knowledge and resources for all.”

“We believe that this new policy is the best course of action, and we hope it encourages everyone to make use of the Library and all we have to offer,” says Moira Danehy, Lending Services Manager. Any former patrons with inactive accounts, Danehy adds, are encouraged to inquire about the status of their accounts, and they may reactivate their cards in person or online.

Greenwich Library recently underwent an $18 million renovation, which was mostly completed during the COVID-19 pandemic and closures. The reimagined space offers a large first-floor reading room with much more natural light and increased seating areas; new meeting rooms and private and group study rooms. Stacks were also lowered in some areas to create more open space, and the available outlets for charging computers and phones were increased throughout the Library, making it an ideal location for remote work and study.

Other large-scale additions include the new ground-level Café at Greenwich Library, a partnership with Abilis, which offers breakfast and lunch options with both indoor and outdoor seating. The new 288-seat Berkley Theater is now open to full capacity and has been hosting conversations, performances, and concerts since last fall. The Theater boasts state-of-the-art audio and video capabilities, tiered seating, and an extended stage that can host larger dance and ensemble performances.

Greenwich Library welcomes the community to visit the renovated spaces at the Main Library or register to join a guided tour on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m.

For more information or questions about your account, contact Lending at lendingservices@greenwichlibrary.org.