The Saint Paul Public Library will be closed on Monday, January 20.

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.


It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.

Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. According to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library whitepaper: “The scant research on the impact of library fines and fees does not indicate a clear benefit to administering these polices and may be costly to enforce.

It’s fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for the past 10 years.


What fine free means for you:

  • You will no longer receive a daily late fine on overdue items.
  • You are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back!
  • The library will send you a series of reminders to return your items (see Reminders Schedule below)
  • Most items that are overdue by 35 days or more will be considered lost, and you will be billed for them. If you return the items, the bill will be cleared from your account.
  • Your account will be referred to the library’s collections agency approximately one month after you receive a bill if your total bill is more than $30. This information is NOT reported to credit bureaus.
  • If you return your items after you have been referred to the collections agency, you will not have to pay your bill on those items, but you will be charged a $10 collections agency processing fee.


Resources, case studies from other libraries, and the latest news.

Collection Heading

SPPL named a Leading Innovator for Fine Free

Saint Paul Public Library named a Leading Innovator for its elimination of daily late fines in early 2019.

After dropping late fees, St. Paul libraries see a boost

Nine months in, the Saint Paul Public Library's fine-free experiment appears to be thriving.  "By every measure we had hoped…

Pioneer Press: Unblocking cards boosted library use

Ditching library fines this winter resulted in the first circulation boost for the St. Paul Public Library system in years.

Download the Fact Sheet

Download a PDF fact sheet with key information about this proposal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the Library want to eliminate overdue fines? What led to this decision? We answer these questions and more.

Presentation: Eliminating Late Fines

Download the slide deck on Eliminating Late Fines at Saint Paul Public Library.

Watch: Celebrate Fine Free

Video highlights from the library's Fine Free celebration at Sun Ray Library on January 19, 2019.

Star Tribune: Library late fees scrapped

Patrons in St. Paul no longer have to pay late fees, and the policy gets rave reviews.

Saint Paul Paul Library goes fine-free

The St. Paul Public Library system has officially done away with overdue fines — but you’d still get charged for materials you don’t return.

Saint Paul eliminates library late fines

Late fines will now be a thing of the past. Books and other materials that are lost or stolen will still require repayment.

Mayor Carter's plan to erase late fines

Melvin Carter has been at the lead in St. Paul for nearly a year. But rarely has Jana Shortal seen him as jazzed as he is about breaking…

Council expected to approve 2019 budget

The St. Paul City Council is expected to approve it's 2019 budget Wednesday.

Nashville Library Says "Later" to Fines

Nashville Public Library (NPL) patrons can borrow without accruing overdue fines beginning July 5, 2017.

Eau Claire library fines to be waived

Talk about a clean slate. Fines owed for overdue L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library books will be waived at the start of next year.

Watch: Free is Key (TEDx UW LaCrosse)

Free is Key: Library Fines and Access | Dawn Wacek, Youth Services Manager, LaCrosse Public Library | TEDxUWLaCrosse

Beth Burns: Proud to Support Fine Free

Beth Burns, President of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, is proud to support Mayor Carter’s proposal to eliminate late fines
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