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About Fine Free


The library is now fine free. That’s right! We no longer charge fines on late items. This ensures that all people have access to library books and materials, which is our primary purpose as a public library. Here you’ll find information about this new policy and how it affects you.


For years, Saint Paul Public Library staff members have sought to eliminate late fines in order to make the Library more accessible to everyone.

Various steps were taken throughout the years, including eliminating late fines on children’s and young adult materials, "Read Downs"(reading off one’s fines on-site), and not charging late fines on Library Go cards given to all Saint Paul Public School students.

Still, at last count, more than 50,000 people were unable to check out materials due to late fines. Percentages of people with blocked cards were higher in economically challenged areas, pointing to a huge disparity in Saint Paul.

In 2018, library staff members led more than six months of research into late fines. We read articles. We interviewed colleagues from other library systems and own staff members. We talked to community members, and we worked with the City’s Office of Financial Services to develop financial models that could support the elimination of late fines.

Based on this comprehensive research, the library and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III submitted a proposal to the Saint Paul City Council to eliminate late fines.

The proposal was passed by City Council on December 12, 2018, and made effective beginning January 2, 2019.



7 DAYS LATE First overdue notice
14 DAYS LATE Second overdue notice
21 DAYS LATE Third overdue notice
35 DAYS LATE Fourth overdue notice
41 DAYS LATE Billed (your card will be blocked for use if charges are over $10)
71 DAYS LATE Collections notice for bills exceeding $30 (This information is NOT reported to credit bureaus)



  • Visit any Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) branch to register for a library card. You will need a photo ID, proof of your date of birth, and proof of your current address to complete the registration.

    Did you know? You can register a library card from another Minnesota public library system at SPPL and enjoy dual access.

  • For years SPPL has not charged late fines on children’s items, which were returned at similar rates as those items that were fined. Other libraries have reported that return rates actually increased after they went fine free.

    We have increased the number of reminder notices we send to patrons and those items that are not returned will be billed. We will continue to monitor how this policy change affects patrons and will make improvements to our policies and procedures as necessary.

  • Your library card may have expired if you haven’t used it in more than one year. Please see a library staff member who can reactivate your card or register you for a new card.

  • We intended to remove late fines on all patron accounts as of January 2. If you see a late fine on your account, it is in error. Please notify a library staff member who will clear it. 

  • This proposal would add $215,000 per year to the Library’s General Fund budget. The impact of this increase on a median value home would be $1.42 per year, or $0.12 per month. A median value home in Saint Paul is $186,200. Visit this site, opens a new window for more information on the City’s budget.

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