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Buncombe County Public Libraries Goes Fine Free

Buncombe County Public Libraries (BCPL) joins a growing number of library systems across the country reducing financial barriers to services. We are excited to announce that as of July 1, 2021 BCPL will permanently eliminate late fines for overdue library materials, and forgive all previous overdue fines so that everyone can start a new chapter at the library.

While libraries have traditionally viewed overdue fines as a means to ensure that materials are returned on time, research shows that fines may actually discourage people from using the library. Fines can be punitive to regular library users and disproportionately affect low-income households and children.

This change is a part of a movement from libraries nationwide, guided by recommendations from the American Library Association in an effort to increase free public access to library services. The decision to go fine free locally was made with staff input, endorsed by the Library Advisory Board, and approved by the Board of Commissioners.

“Eliminating library fines will greatly reduce barriers to access and ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of resources the library has to offer,” said Library Director Jim Blanton.

BCPL will continue to send reminders to patrons to return items when materials are due and a separate notice when they are past due. It’s important to note that anyone who fails to return, loses, or damages a library item, will still be responsible for paying replacement fees for those items. Any item overdue for 45 days will be considered lost, and patrons will incur a charge for that item.

“Since all previous overdue fines are forgiven, we hope this will give people a great opportunity to return library materials they’ve had for any length of time,” says Blanton.  “If you have a book sitting at home, just bring it back, no fines will be added to your card no matter when you checked it out.”

Please contact the library at library@buncombecounty.org or 250-4700 with any questions about your account or library card.