FINES FREE FAQ
What does Fines Free mean?
Fines Free means we are no longer charging late fees on books, audio, and DVDs that are owned by Piedmont Regional Library System (PRLS) libraries.
When are items NOT fines free?
Anything that is not a PRLS-owned book, audio, or DVD will still be subject to late fees. This includes Chromebooks, hotspots, park passes, and items that are not owned by our 10 libraries, which are listed under libraries at the top of this page. Items that will accrue late fees are marked on your receipt at checkout.
What if I do not bring a book back?
We do have to continue to charge replacement costs on items that are not returned. All you have to do is return your items and you won't be charged anything!
What happens to the fines already on my account?
We are so excited to start this new chapter with you! Now that we are fines free, we are also excited to enact our new Welcome Back program. Come see us at the circulation desk in the library and we will remove any old late fees on your account for a fresh start. NOTE: Previous lost item fees may still apply if they are less than 3 years old or if they are owned by another library system.
Why Eliminate Late Fees?
The mission of the library is not only to get our books back. It's to get people back. Our community thrives when everyone has equal access to the services, materials and programs they need to pursue their educational, career, family and life goals. Our mission seeks to empower people, raise their aspirations, enhance their employability, and build active citizenship and quality of life in the community. We hope that by removing this financial barrier, we can welcome back many of our patrons who have had their access blocked due to fines, as well as introduce new patrons to everything we have to offer.
Late fines are not effective. We know from industry research that fines do not impact return rates but do contribute to a loss of materials. Simply, those who can afford to pay the fines, pay them. Those who can’t afford the fines don’t return and often keep the materials.
It’s fiscally responsible. Late fees consist of less than 1% of the library’s operating budget. The majority of library funding is governmental. Governmental funding for libraries in Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties has increased more than enough over the past ten years to make up the difference.
This is a two-year fines-free pilot program. We initially suspended late fees in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and witnessed the many benefits it provided our patrons. Then, the opportunity arose to be part of a fines-free pilot program with two other library systems in Georgia. We have now joined Coastal Plain Regional and Northwest Georgia Regional to gather research on this change for the next two years and report our findings to other library systems around the state.