Fine-Free FAQ

A graphic of a lighthouse and a sailboat with the words "Farewell to Fines - Stratford Library is going fine free". The lighthouse is white with a red stripe.

Dear Friends,
On December 15, 2021, the Stratford Library joined the growing number of fine-free public libraries! Our mission is to empower and enrich our diverse community by providing access to innovative services, information and ideas. Fines restrict access for people who are struggling economically and have proven ineffective in encouraging the timely return of materials. While you will still be billed for the cost of lost or damaged items, you will no longer be charged late fees. If you’ve been hanging on to a long overdue book, bring it back–free of charge and free of guilt!
Welcome Back!
Sheri Szymanski

Library Director

Will past fines be forgiven?
Yes, all overdue fines have been removed from library accounts.

Are there still due dates?
Yes! “No fines” doesn’t mean “no responsibility.” Items will still have loan periods with a set number of renewals unless there are holds. If an item is lost, you will be billed the cost of the item unless you return it. If an item is damaged, you will be billed for its cost.

Won’t people just steal books?  Are things being returned on time?
Research on fine-free libraries has found that eliminating overdue fines does not lead to significantly slower returns. Libraries that have gone fine free report increased library usage and a huge return of formerly lost items that people were afraid to return!

Why do I still owe money?
If you have a long overdue item on your account, you are responsible for the cost of the item until it is returned. When you return it, there is no overdue fee and the charge for the item will be removed from your account. If you can’t return the item, stop by the Check Out Desk and we’ll be happy to work with you to find an equitable solution.

Why has the Library gone fine free?
The Library’s mission is to empower and enrich our diverse community by providing access to to innovative services, information, and ideas. Fines restrict access for people who are struggling economically. We want people to use the Stratford Library and fines keep people from being able to do that.

What impact has this had on the Library’s budget?
Revenue from overdue fines was a tiny percentage of our budget. Over the course of several years, we reduced our reliance on fine revenue by charging lower fines for children, offering fine forgiveness initiatives for teens and even collecting food in lieu of fines for local pantries. The Library Board carefully weighed this decision and determined that the positive impact of removing fines is far greater than the impact of the income they generated. If you would like to support the Stratford Library, we invite you to donate online or at the Library.

Are other libraries doing this?
YES! This is a growing trend in libraries around the country. You can see a map of fine-free libraries here.

Hours: Monday - Thursday: 10am - 8pm
Friday & Saturday 10am - 5pm