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User-Centered Access: Planning and Implementing a Fine-Free Policy (ASC 2017) and Revolutionize Circ: Free Yourself from Fines (VLA 2018)

Our library’s proposal to extend lending and eliminate overdue fines has been implemented successfully! We’ll share why and how we managed to align our circulation policies with the needs of our most frequent users. By Maryke Barber and Karen Ryan, Hollin

Emails - Sent upon Implementation

Students: SUBJECT “Always Getting Library Fines? Not Anymore!”
TEXT: Get ready for big news from the library! This summer/fall we are starting a pilot program to change our borrowing practices. You’ll be able to borrow books for longer: 120 days instead of 30 (undergraduates). We are also getting rid of daily overdue fines!  
We’ll still send email reminders. Due dates still matter: if items are severely overdue, you risk being charged replacement fees, and some high demand items such as reserves and recalls will still have overdue charges.
Click here for more information:​
Got questions? 540-362-7465,
Faculty & Staff: SUBJECT: “News: the fine-free library”
TEXT: In order to better align our policies with our mission, the library is making a big change. This summer/fall we are starting a pilot program to restructure our borrowing practices: all students will now able to borrow books for 120 days, and we are eliminating daily overdue fines.
High demand items such as reserves will still have overdue charges. We’ll still send email reminders and as before, if items are severely overdue borrowers risk being charged replacement fees.
With extended due dates, we need to make it possible for borrowers to request items which have already been checked out. In addition to our existing Interlibrary Loan services, we will also enable recalls. When an item is recalled, the original borrower will be asked to return the item sooner.
Click here for more information:​
Got questions? 540-362-7465,

Library Newsletter Article, September 2016


Here’s a familiar scenario: you start a project early and checkout books from the library – your project isn’t due for 6 weeks, but your checkout period is only 4 weeks. What do you do? Many times the answer is that you keep the books and suffer the late fines. We want to change that. Beginning this fall, all students will be able to check out books for 120 days and will no longer be charged for late returns.

The library’s mission is to provide access, not charge fees. Research shows that overdue fines become a barrier to access and are not actually an effective method for getting people to return materials. If people need books beyond the due date, many will keep them regardless of the fine and in some cases never return to the library. Simply put: library fines stop people from using the library – and they don’t work. Other libraries have successfully implemented this program and we are pleased to join them.

How will this work?

  • This is a pilot program for the 2016-17 school year. We will evaluate the impact to our community and the collection, and hope to go fine free permanently.
  • All students will have a 120 day (semester long) book checkout period. Films are still 7 days. After the due date you will receive several notices to return items. If they are not returned or renewed after 29 days, you will be charged a replacement fee. Loans from Roanoke College are included in this program.
  • Need a book or film that’s currently checked out? First, request it through InterLibrary Loan (ILL). If it cannot be acquired through ILL, you can recall it and the current patron with the book will have 14 days to return the title.
  • Recalled books and reserve items are considered high demand items and are subject to late fines.

For more information on the program and a complete list of policies, please visit: Questions? Contact Maryke Barber, Public Services Librarian, at