Fines Free FAQ

Hayward Public Library Is Going Fines Free!
Why did the library decide to eliminate overdue fines?
Eliminating daily overdue fines has a number of positive benefits for the community. Libraries that have eliminated daily overdue fines have found:
  • Library card registrations increased.
  • Borrowing of materials increased.
  • More library items were returned.
  • Students returned to the library to use homework resources.
  • Staff were able to spend more time assisting patrons. 
I have fines on my card now. Will currently outstanding fines be waived?
Yes! Before January 1, 2021, all current bills, fines, and fees will be waived from all library accounts.
What if I misplaced a book and can’t return it?
While the library eliminated daily overdue fines, Library users are still responsible for fees associated with the replacement of lost or damaged books and other materials they check out. Under this new policy, it is important to understand the difference between overdue fines and billed-item fees. Overdue fines are the daily charges applied to items not returned by their specified due date. These are the fines that will no longer be charged to patrons. Billed-item fees represent the charges applied for lost, damaged, or unreturned materials and are still in effect. Patrons with billed items will not be able to check out new materials until the items have been returned or bills have been paid. 
Don’t late fines encourage people to return their items on time?
Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. Once someone has a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again.
HPL encourages patrons to return their items in a responsible and timely fashion so that others may enjoyed this shared community resource. Per our existing policy, items that are more than 35 days overdue will be billed. Patrons with billed items will not be able to use their library cards until the items are returned or the replacement fee has been paid.
Will there still be due dates?
Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Be respectful of your fellow library users who may be waiting for items to be returned. Bring back materials when they are due so that everyone has equal access to our collections. 
What if I borrow through Link+?
Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine.
Have other libraries gone fines free?
Yes! Many local and national libraries have gone fines free, including many in the Bay Area. Visit the Urban Libraries Council interactive map to see fines-free libraries all over the world.