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Charleston County Public Library Goes Fine Free

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Beginning June 1st, 2021 the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) will no longer charge fines for all overdue library materials, including DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, Chromebooks, Hotspots, and other non-traditional items.

The library system stopped charging fees for overdue books in June 2018. In addition, as part of CCPL’s “Amnesty for All” campaign, any fines incurred prior to June 1st will be waived if the item is returned to the library in June or July.

CCPL is one of many library systems throughout the country eliminating fines to increase accessibility to library services. According to CCPL Executive Director Angela Craig, fines were never designed to generate revenue for a library. In 2020, revenue from fines and fees accounted for only 1% of CCPL’s total funds.

“Fines were in place to encourage patrons to return materials in a timely manner. However, they more often act as a deterrent,” said Craig. “Fines create an unnecessary barrier between community members and our library materials and services. We believe that every single member of our community deserves equal access to the library and removing fines brings us closer to that goal.”

Although late fees will no longer be collected, if an item is not returned within 42 days of its due date, the item will be considered lost and CCPL will take steps to recover the item or its full replacement cost, which may lead to a referral to Unique Management Systems, a collections agency.

CCPL will continue to notify patrons via email about materials that are coming due or overdue, so they have an opportunity to return them prior to their due date. Patrons can also now sign up for notifications via text message (message and data rates may apply based on wireless carrier). To update the email address on the account or to sign up for email or text message account notifications, contact any CCPL branch.

The fine-free policy is not retroactive and so any fines or fees on someone’s account prior to June 1st, 2021 will still have to be paid. However, CCPL is celebrating “Amnesty for All” this summer. During the months of June and July, if a patron returns any outstanding or overdue library materials, or updates their account information at a library branch, then all fines or fees incurred prior to June 1 will be waived.

“Amnesty for All gives patrons a chance to wipe the slate clean and have a fresh start with the library, while re-building our library collection by putting materials back into circulation,” said Craig.

Neither the elimination of fines nor “Amnesty for All” are applicable to out of county library cards. For more information about CCPL’s fines, fees and other policies, visit the How Do I? section of ccpl.org or contact your local library branch.  

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