Saturday, April 4, 2020 - 2:00pm

We've gone fine free

We are excited to announce that we have joined the national movement to stop charging overdue fines. If you would like to let us know your thoughts, please email us at

What does it mean to be fine free?

We will no longer charge fines for overdue items to any patrons, including those visiting us from other libraries who check out at our library. 

What if I currently have overdue fines on my account?

We have wiped out all existing fines for overdue materials and we will no longer be charging fines for any materials checked out from the Northbrook Public Library in the future.

What are some of the benefits of going fine free?

Being fine free removes barriers and helps us provide a more equitable experience for all of the people in our community. We want to encourage people to enjoy coming to the library and we believe that assessing financial penalties for late items is counterproductive to this goal. 

It also improves the checkout process by letting our staff focus on more positive interactions with patrons. We want people to be excited about coming to the library, rather than worried about whether or not they owe a fine. We hope to welcome back everyone who has been staying away because of a fine on their account. Another benefit is that it paves the way for people to use our self-service machines, which cannot accept payment for fines.

Do items still have due dates?

Yes, each item will still have a due date, and you are still responsible for honoring the due date or renewing the item.  When you return items on time, it lets your neighbors borrow items sooner.

To help you return items on time, we can send you reminders by email. You can set up email reminders in your library account.

How will overdue items be treated now?

Although you will no longer be charged a fine, after an item is two weeks overdue, your account will be blocked from any further checkouts until you return the item. The account block includes checking out items at the desk and self-check, as well as access to our digital downloads and databases. Items not returned after being overdue for six weeks will be considered lost.

Lost items will be billed to you at the replacement cost. You can receive a refund if you return the lost item to the library in good condition within 30 days. (Replacement copies are not accepted in lieu of payment.)

Can I still be charged if I check out an item from a library that hasn’t gone fine free?

Yes. If you check out an item from a library that has not gone fine free, you can still be charged a fine from that library. However, many area libraries have already made the decision to eliminate overdue fines, and others are considering it. 

How will the library recoup the funds received from late fees?

Fines account for only a very small percentage (approximately .2%) of our operating budget, and this number has decreased over time. When we implemented our popular auto-renewal policy in 2018, we saw a dramatic reduction in overdue fines. 

Will I have to wait longer for popular items to be returned?

Libraries that have gone fine free have not seen any difference in when items are returned. Most items are returned within a week of their due date. 

Can I still donate funds to support the library?

We recognize that many people view overdue fines as a way to support their local library.  And we appreciate the support. You can learn more about ways to support the library here:

What will happen to the “Food for Fines” drive?

We feel that continuing our partnership with the Northfield Township Food Pantry is very important, and we are looking for other creative ways to support them. For example, we recently partnered with the Friends of the Library and the First Bank of Highland Park to provide a donation to the Northfield Township Food Pantry for every Summer Reading participant who completed the program.