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​"Our libraries offer far more to residents than books--they offer the path to a changed future.
Their resources are available to all but we know that for some residents, the prospect of a late fee can act as a deterrence to using library services in the first place."

- Mayor Kate Gallego on September 10, 2019

On November 18, 2019 Phoenix Public Library waived all existing overdue fines and discontinued the practice of applying overdue fines to items returned late.

​The principal goal of the library is to make library services and materials available to those that need it most. Becoming a fine free library helps us further attain this goal.

Phoenix will be the first of the 5 largest U.S. cities to adopt a fine free program.

What does this mean for me, the customer?Item Return Notification Schedule

On November 18, Phoenix Public Library:

  • Forgave existing overdue fines

  • Eliminated charging overdue fines 

Fees charged for lost items (Replacement Fee) has remained the same.


What happens when I return an item late?

See the chart to the right for a timeline of what to expect if you have an overdue item now that this new policy has been implemented.


Still curious? See the FAQs on this page.

​Frequently Asked Questions

​​What is changing for Phoenix Public Library customers?

"All Fines Forgiven" means two things: Phoenix Public Library will forgive all overdue fines accrued on all library accounts and will discontinue charging a daily overdue fine on late-returned materials.

​Why remove Overdue Fines?

Studies have shown that overdue fines on library materials have no impact on ensuring that materials are returned on time. What research has shown is that lower income households (which are less likely to have books in the home and have a higher risk of lower literacy skills) are disproportionately affected by overdue fines and are more likely to have blocked library accounts. The potential of accruing a balance of overdue fines can also prevent some customers from checking out books and other materials from Phoenix Public Library.

We are committed to making our library as accessible as possible to those that need it most and want to: 1) bring back library users whose library accounts are blocked due to unpaid overdue fines; and 2) encourage more people to sign up for a library card and use library materials without the fear of incurring overdue fines they cannot afford to pay.

​Will this mean customers will be allowed to indefinitely keep library materials?

No. Customers are still expected to return materials, preferably on time. We are still following our reminder schedule. When items are 50 days past due, we will charge the account holder a replacement fee for the item.

​When will All Fines Forgiven go into effect?

We are planning for this to go into effect in November 2019. There is some behind the scenes database work that will need to be done and with over 1 million account holders we want to ensure that this will be seamless.

​What if a customer has lost or damaged an item?

We will continue our practice of charging customers a replacement fee for lost and/or damaged items.

​How many library accounts are currently blocked?

There are a little over 1 million Phoenix Public Library accounts, with a little over 100,000 (approximately 10%) of those blocked due to an accrual of overdue fines of $25. This is just the data we are able to measure. What we can't measure are the number of community members and families that either 1) have a library account and do not check out materials for fear of not being able to return them on time and accrue overdue fines; or 2) choose to not have a library account in the first place.

​How many other public library systems are now fine free?

The Urban Libraries Council reports approximately 200+ public library systems in North America have implemented fine-free programs. Phoenix is the largest U.S. city to completely eliminate overdue fines.

​How will this affect holds on library materials?

The effect on the number of holds and the length of time a customer spends on a hold list for an item is one element we will be watching closely.

​How will Phoenix Public Library's budget be affected?

This will have minimal impact on our budget as the annual overdue fine collection amount is less than 1% of our annual budget. This revenue will be partially offset by an increase in the revenue share we receive from the Maricopa County Library District.

Will customers still have to pay fines that were on accounts prior to Phoenix Public Library going fine free?

No. All Fines Forgiven will forgive all fines accrued on all library accounts.

​Will there still be library accounts blocked due to money owed?

Yes. If a customer has been billed a replacement fee for library materials, and that amount has accrued to $25 or more, their account will be blocked.

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