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Beginning August 2019, Spokane Public Library will no longer charge late fines on overdue materials!

  • You can check out as many items as you want.
  • You can place holds on 80 items at a time.
  • High-demand items and DVDs check out for 1 week, all other items check out for 3 weeks.
  • You may renew items up to three times, as long as no one else is waiting for them.
  • You can also make 50 free copies per month.
  • You should try to return your items on time, but if you miss the due date you will not be charged a fine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the library eliminate fines?
Eliminating fines ensures all people have access to Library books and materials. Fines prevent some people from using the library. While many library users accrue late fines, the ability to pay them depends greatly on income. Those who are able to pay keep using the Library, whereas those who are unable to pay cannot. Eliminating fines will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience library services.

What happens if I don’t return my books by the end of the 14-day grace period?
Items that are overdue by 14 days or more will be considered lost and you will be billed for them. Your account is blocked if it exceeds a balance owing of $50 or more. If the balance is below $50 the account retains full privilegesIf you return the items, the bill will be cleared from your account. Accounts will be referred to the library’s collections agency 21 days past the last billing notice if the total bill for the account is more than $75.

If items are returned after the customer has been referred to the collection agency, they will not have to pay the bill on those items but will be charged a non-refundable collection agency processing fee.

What happens to my existing fines?
Fines posted to your account prior to August 2019 will still remain. The fines are still owed but they will no longer lock your account and prevent you from borrowing materials as long as they don’t exceed $50. We have flexible payment plan options and are looking at addressing this barrier in the future.

Won’t this cause people to return items late?
Many of our customers regularly use our libraries and return their books on time. Research from other libraries show that fines have no impact on return rates and that they can discourage or prevent customers from signing up for or using Library cards. From “Long Overdue” a study by The Financial Justice Project and The San Francisco Library  in January 2019: “Overdue fines do not turn irresponsible patrons into responsible ones, they only distinguish between patrons who can afford to pay for the common mistake of late returns and those who cannot.”

How will this impact the Library budget?
Fines are no longer a reliable revenue stream for the library. Every year the revenue from fines goes down, while the labor and costs of processing the fines go up. Fines are no longer a sustainable form of revenue and merely prevent some users from accessing the library.

What does “account blocked” mean?
This means no borrowing of physical library materials.

Can I still use my card if my account is blocked?
You may still use library computers, check out digital materials, and use online databases, as long as the amount owed does not exceed $50.

How can I access my account to see why it is blocked?
Select My Account from the top left of spokanelibrary.org and sign in with your library barcode and PIN.

What if I lose an item?
You must pay for the replacement cost.

What if I damage an item?
You must pay for the repair or replacement cost.

What happens if I find a lost item that I already paid for?
If the item is found within 90 days of payment you are eligible for a refund of the item cost (the processing fee is non-refundable as it covers staff time and materials). If the item is found after 90 days of payment it is yours to keep.

How do I pay for what I owe?
You can pay online or at any Self-Checkout kiosk using a debit or credit card. You may pay by cash or check by speaking with staff.

Is it just for kids or students?
No, all users can now enjoy the library without the risk of fines.