Saint Paul Public Library is now 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. 

What this 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 a full reminder schedule at
  • 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. 

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. 

Why go fine free?

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.

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. 

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.”