The Bryan + College Station Public Library System is implementing a new Late Fine Amnesty Program in an attempt to get items that are overdue returned to the library branches, and reduce barriers to library access for residents.
The Late Fine Amnesty Program will reinstate the accounts of patrons who have been previously blocked due to late fines, regardless of how long they have been blocked. It will also waive any unpaid fines those patrons have accumulated, and eliminate all late fines on materials going forward. Fees will still be charged to patrons for lost or damaged materials.
The program begins on April 3 and will run until April 6, 2025. Books can be returned to Clara B. Mounce Public Library in Bryan, Larry J. Ringer Library in College Station, or to our outdoor drop boxes at these locations.
How does this affect you?
We’ve put together a list of questions and answers to help you understand this program and how it could benefit you and other patrons.
Q: What is the difference between fines and fees?
A: Fines are associated with overdue materials returned past their borrowed due date. During the Amnesty Program dates (April 3, 2023 – April 6, 2025), fines will no longer be incurred.
Fees are associated with lost or damaged materials. Materials are considered lost 30 days after the due date, and patrons will still be responsible for any lost fees: the cost of the material plus $5 service fee. If materials are returned undamaged, there will be no fees and the lost charge will be removed.
Q: Will service fees be charged?
A: Service fees will still be charged for lost or damaged materials. If the material is returned, then the service fee would be waived.
Q: Will I still need to pay if I lose materials I had checked out?
A: Yes, you are still responsible for lost or damaged materials during the amnesty period and beyond. There will not be any late fines or lost fees as long as the material is returned undamaged.
Q: I lost a book last year. Do I need to pay for it?
A: Yes, the program is for late fines. You will be responsible for fees related to lost or damaged library materials.
Q: I paid for late fines before the program began. Will I get a refund for that?
A: We are holding an amnesty period from April 3, 2023 – April 6, 2025, and it is not retroactive. Patrons who paid late fines before the program began will not get a refund during the amnesty period.
Q: What if I returned a book that is late in the drop during the amnesty program but don’t come into the library?
A: Materials can be returned to the drop boxes during the amnesty period and will be removed from the patron’s account, along with late fines.
Q: I have fines or fees on my account. Can I use my library card?
A: Cards with unpaid fines or fees totaling $20 or more will be blocked from checking out additional items. Patrons may use public computers regardless of the charges on their account.
Q: When and how does a patron receive communication about overdue materials?
A: Courtesy notification are sent via email or text (based on your preference) three days before an item’s due date. The item can be automatically renewed once, if it has no holds. Accounts with materials that are overdue seven days past their due date will be blocked. At 30 days overdue, an item is considered lost and the patron account will be charged appropriately. Cardholders can edit their contact information by going to the library catalog online to ensure proper delivery of notifications. Your PIN number is the last 4 digits of the telephone number on the account.
Q: If I am unable to use my card, can I still use the library to read books or use the computers?
A: Yes. All are welcome to use public computers and Wi-Fi, read books/periodicals, do research, attend library programs and access some of our online databases in-house without a library card.
Q: Will the revenue of the library system be affected by the removal of fines?
A: The amount of revenue from fines is less than 1% of the library system’s budget.
Provisions of the Late Fine Amnesty Program
- Once materials become overdue, there will be a seven-day grace period before a patron account is blocked.
- After the patron account is blocked, the patron will be prohibited from checking out or opening a new account until either materials are returned or all lost/damaged materials fees have been paid.
- A parent/guardian that has a blocked account cannot open an account for a minor until either materials are returned or all lost/damaged materials fees have been paid.
- Materials that are more than 30 days past due are considered lost, and the patron is assessed a fee equal to the replacement cost of the materials, plus a service fee of $5.
- Fees charged for lost materials can be waived if the materials are returned.
- A fee will be charged for damaged materials, equal to the replacement cost of the materials and a $5 service fee for irreparably damaged materials. The charge for partially damaged materials will be the lesser of the replacement cost or the cost for materials repair.
- In lieu of payment for lost or damaged materials, a patron may bring in new or exact copies of the lost/damaged materials, plus a processing fee of $5.
- The Library System Director, or designee, shall work with patrons to resolve disputed lost or damaged materials. Circumstances, such as long-term hospitalization, military deployment, fire, theft or natural disasters may warrant a reduction or waiver of fees, with proof.