Tacoma Public Library is fine free!

Tacoma Public Library has adopted a policy to permanently eliminate overdue fine collection on late items. Additionally, TPL will clear all overdue fines on patron accounts. TPL will also absorb fees from missing or damaged items that incurred a charge on Jan. 1, 2016, or earlier from patron accounts.

“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh. We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here,” said Director Kate Larsen.

No fines collected during the pandemic

Tacoma Public Library stopped charging overdue fines in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic; the new policy ensures that this practice will continue.

“We feel there is no better time than now to affirm our commitment to our strategic priorities of equity and access by permanently doing away with overdue fines,” Larsen continued.

“This has very little impact on our overall budget, yet for individual and household budgets, fines can really add up and have an adverse impact, and even prevent people from ever returning to the library,” Larsen added.

Fines versus fees

There is a difference between fines and fees in libraries. Fines are charges incurred for overdue items. Fees are charges for lost or damaged items.

Items are considered lost when a patron notifies TPL that they have misplaced an item, or when an item is 81 days past its due date. TPL will continue to charge fees for lost and damaged items; fees vary by item type.

Other changes

  • TPL is implementing automatic renewals. Any item that is checked out and not on hold for another patron will be automatically renewed once.
    • This applies to most items, with the exception of a small number of non-renewable materials, such as museum and Discover passes and Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Patrons can continue to borrow items until they have amassed $100 in fees
    • Even if they have amassed more than $100 in fees, patrons can still use public computers and electronic resources
  • TPL will no longer charge a $1 replacement fee for library cards

Tacoma Public Library continues to open buildings and library services according to Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery, opens a new window guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on library services, visit tacomalibrary.org/tpl-now.