Fine free at the library

Bethlehem Public Library is going fine free in July 2022. We will no longer charge fines for overdue books and other media. Here you’ll find information about this new policy and how it affects you.

Why go fine free?

  • It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience what we offer.
  • During the pandemic, the library stopped charging fines for a number of months. We found that it had only a nominal impact on whether or not materials were returned on time.
  • Due to increasing use of electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are no longer a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for the past ten years, especially with our new auto-renewal service.
  • Going fine free optimizes library staff time and efficiency by reducing small financial transactions at the Circulation Desk.

What this means for you

  • You will no longer receive daily fines on overdue books and media.
  • You are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back!
  • The library will send you reminders to return your items. Eligible items that are not on hold will be automatically renewed.
  • Materials that are more than 30 days overdue are assumed lost, and you will be billed for the replacement costs. However, if you return the items, the replacement costs will be cleared from your account.
  • Replacement fees and charges for lost or damaged items still apply.
  • Fines of $1/day for Library of Things items and ILL, as well as $5/day for museum passes, will remain.

Frequently asked questions

Fines have been waived, so why does my account still have a balance?
While the library is doing away with most overdue fines, fees for lost or damaged materials remain. Fines will still be charged for overdue museum passes, Library of Things items and ILL.

Will I be charged fines if I borrow items from another UHLS library that hasn’t gone fine free?
No. When you check out at Bethlehem Public Library, all items checked out fall under our loan rules. If you borrow materials at other libraries that charge fines, you will be responsible for paying them.

How will the library get people to return borrowed materials?
“No fines” does not mean “no responsibility.” Materials that are more than 30 days overdue are assumed lost, and you will be billed for the replacement costs. If you bring back the item, those charges will be dropped. Please remember that other people may want the item you borrowed, so don’t hesitate to return it.

What else?

  • If you’ve always thought of paying your fines as a donation to the library, you still can. Donations to the library can be made through the Friends of Bethlehem Public Library. Your donation will support critical library programs and services. Click here to learn more or donate online.
  • Fine free means judgement free. If you’ve been avoiding the library because you’re worried about paying fines, we are happy to welcome you back! Click here to register for your new card in person or online, or give us a call at (518) 439-9314 or e-mail us at to check if you already have a card.

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