Fine-Free FAQs

No more daily overdue fines!

This year marks Cuyahoga County Public Library’s 100th anniversary, and to kick-off our year-long centennial celebration, we are delighted to announce that our Board of Trustees has approved a new policy — no more daily overdue fines! And, just this once, we will forgive every cardholder any fines or fees currently on their account. It's a fresh start for everyone!

Why are we going fine free? Well, we understand that life happens, and most of us have found ourselves late at some point returning a library item. For our most vulnerable customers, those overdue fines can sometimes mean the difference between accessing important library materials or having to go without. We don’t want anyone to face a financial barrier to using the library.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be “fine free”?
Effective January 26, 2022, Cuyahoga County Public Library will no longer charge daily fines on overdue material.*

Why change the policy? Doesn’t the Library rely on fines for its funding?
We are making this change because overdue fines are a barrier for many residents who simply cannot afford to pay if they are a few days late returning an item. Fines are a penalty, not a library reimbursement, that residents are charged even when they return an overdue item. When fines accrue over time, they represent a financial barrier that disproportionately affects low-income families and children.

Fines historically represent less than 1% of the Library’s annual revenue. The value of eliminating fines and opening access far exceeds the cost.

Without a fine, what’s the incentive to return material?
Having a fine on your library account is not a moral failing – it’s more often an indication that we all lead busy lives, and sometimes we miss a library due date! With the new fine free policy, any library items that are not returned more than 21 days after their due date will be considered “lost.” When an item is lost, borrowers are charged a replacement fee. When a lost item is returned, the replacement fee is cleared – that’s a strong incentive to bring items back to the Library.

This all sounds great, but what about the fines already on my account?
In celebration of Cuyahoga County Public Library’s 100th anniversary, the Board of Trustees authorized the one-time elimination of all current fines and fees**, clearing a “fresh start” for all cardholder accounts. Going forward, borrowers will no longer accrue penalty fines when they are a few days late in returning material.

What if I don't return an item?
Borrowers with items more than 21 days past their due date will be charged a fee to replace those items. If a borrower owes between $10 and $99, their account will automatically convert to Opportunity Card status, which limits them to three (3) physical items checked out at a time. Accounts with more than $100 will be blocked.

* The only exceptions to the fine free policy are bookable kits and materials checked out through OhioLink and SearchOhio, as they are items that do not belong to Cuyahoga County Public Library.

** The CCPL Board does not have the authority to waive fines and fees associated materials on loan from OhioLink and SearchOhio.

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