Fine Free Policy

Effective January 01, 2023
Approved by Wolfforth City Council December 05, 2023

Whereas libraries exist to enrich their community and strive to provide stress-free and open access to all our patrons, the City of Wolfforth Library is adopting a fine-free policy with regard to the majority of our checkout materials.

Libraries across the nation have demonstrated that imposing late fees on patrons is not an effective deterrent to the return of late materials. Instead, it commonly creates barriers for youth or may cause patron guilt, making Library use less likely. We strive to overcome these barriers and increase access to our patrons, trusting that our show of good faith will encourage patrons to return materials in a timely manner.

Any person who shall fail to return in undamaged condition any book or Library material belonging to or originally borrowed from the custody of the Library shall be responsible as herein provided:

A. Fines:

The City of Wolfforth Library does not charge fines for overdue materials. However, patrons are expected to return materials by their due dates to ensure that all Library users have equitable access to materials.

All books, audiobooks, and DVDs will have no daily late fines incurred. However, no new materials may be checked out until all overdue materials are returned. While traditional fines will not accrue, a replacement cost will be charged if an item is not returned within a reasonable time. For books and materials that check out for two weeks, after 30 days past due the patron’s account will automatically incur the full replacement cost of the item. For DVDs and items that check out for one week, at 15 days past due the patron assumes the full replacement cost of the item. It is at the discretion of Library staff to determine if special circumstances allow replacement fines to be waived if items are returned after these designated periods. Once paid for, materials are the property of the patron and replacement fees will not be refunded.

Patrons with charges for items that have not been returned in the period listed in the previous paragraph will have their account blocked until related fees have been paid or have been satisfactorily worked out with the Library director/Library staff.

If an item is late due to being lost or damaged, patrons should notify the City of Wolfforth Library of the items’ status. Librarians will work with patrons to extend due dates (when possible and within reason) for missing items. Replacements may be accepted for lost or damaged items if:

  1. The Library has been notified within a reasonable amount of time
  2. The replacement is in “new” condition and matches the description of the item lost/damaged (i.e. hardcover, paperback, large print)
The City of Wolfforth Library is a fine free Library with the exception of circulating makerspaces and technology devices. The overdue fines for these items will be $3 per day, per item.

Overdue Notices:

An email/ text reminder will be sent 3 days prior to an item being due, and reminder emails/texts will be sent 3, 7, and 14 days after the due dates. A late letter will be mailed when item(s) have reached 28 days past due. To ensure you receive these notices, please make sure we have up-to-date contact information attached to your account. Not receiving Library notices does not negate the patron’s responsibility for returning Library items.


We are confident that our patrons will strive to continue returning Library materials in a timely manner. When items with holds have not been returned on time, Library staff will make an effort to contact patrons with the items checked out to ensure timely access to desired items.

Prior Late Fines:

All late fines existing before the adoption of this policy will be waived. Lost/damaged item charges will remain.

B. Fees for Lost Library Cards:
The initial Library card will be provided to the patron at no cost. Should the initial card need to be replaced, there will be a $2.00 fee for each new card issued.

C. Damaged Materials:
If items are returned in damaged condition that requires them to be repaired or replaced, repair costs and/or replacement costs are the responsibility of the patron. The Damages/ Fines and Fees are as follows:

Fees for Damaged Items/ Misc. Fees
Item: Base:   Value of Book: NEW Book (added within 12 months):
Torn page $0.50 + 5% 20%
Multiple torn pages $1.00 + 10% 25%
Torn cover $2.00 + 20% 50%
Bent hardcover corner $1.00 + 10% 25%
Liquid damage $2.00 + 20% 50%
Sticky/ dirty (new books only) $1.00 + n/a 10%
Pen/ Color marks $0.50 + 5% 10%
Pen/ Color marks on multiple pages $2.00 + 20% 50%
Broken spine $2.00 + 20% 50%
Broken DVD case $1.00   n/a n/a
Broke audio case $2.00   n/a n/a
Returned mail $1.00   n/a n/a
Missing/ damaged audio disc $6.00   n/a n/a
Replacement Library card $2.00   n/a n/a
Audio/ DVD left in drop-box $2.00   n/a n/a
Patrons are always welcome to purchase a new copy of the exact title they damaged and donate it instead of paying the fine.
A paperback copy CANNOT replace a hardback.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact the City of Wolfforth Library at 806-855-4150
Frequently Asked Questions
Why eliminate overdue fines?
We want all patrons to have access to the Library. Research shows that overdue fines are not effective in encouraging the return of Library materials. Instead, fines can quickly become a barrier to using the Library. We know that life happens sometimes and it can be difficult to return items on time. But we don’t want overdue fines to discourage patrons from the invaluable free technology, literacy, and lifelong learning resources that our libraries offer. By imposing fines and prohibiting people from borrowing books when the fines add up, we are negatively impacting the people who may need us the most.

In January 2019, the American Library Association (ALA) passed a resolution that asserted overdue fines are a barrier to equitable access and encouraged libraries to eliminate them. The ALA is our largest professional organization and we give serious consideration to their resolutions. In going fine-free, we are joining the ranks of many other public libraries across the nation.
When will these changes take place?
The fine free policy only applies to overdue fines for physical books, audiobooks, and DVDs. There will still be replacement charges for lost or damaged items. You will still be charged overdue fines for other items in our collection like makerspaces and technology devices.
What fines and materials does this apply to?
The fine free policy only applies to overdue fines for physical books, audiobooks, and DVDs. There will still be replacement charges for lost or damaged items. You will still be charged overdue fines for other items in our collection like makerspaces and technology devices.
Will my account be blocked if I do not return items?
Yes. If an item is 15 days overdue, the cardholder’s account will be blocked from checking out additional materials both in the Library and on Libby. If the item is not returned within 28 days, the cardholder will be charged the replacement cost for the unreturned item.
How will the Library get people to return borrowed materials?
Patrons are still responsible for returning materials on time. The standard checkout time is 14 days for books and audiobooks and 7 days for DVDs. Accounts with unpaid charges of $5.00 or more, or with materials that are more than 15 days overdue will be blocked from checking out additional materials until the items have been returned or replaced.
Will the holds lists be longer?
Good news! Most fine free libraries report that a majority of patrons still return their materials on time, and hold lists aren’t affected. Don’t worry – Library staff will be monitoring the effect on waitlists and adjust accordingly. And we always encourage patrons to return materials on time so others can enjoy them.
Why isn't the Library removing charges for lost or damaged items?
The Library’s primary goal is to have all Library materials returned to ensure a quality collection for the community. The Library’s collection – the books, movies, and other materials – is a core Library service. It is a substantial investment of taxpayer funds, and to be good stewards of these funds, we must enforce compensation for lost or damaged items.
What about the lost revenue that overdue fines generated?
The Library has never been dependent on fines and fees for revenue. Overdue fines only account for a small portion of our Library revenue and do not directly come back to the Library, so the financial impact is small.  Anyone who would like to donate to support our services and collection are always welcome to make a donation to the Library. We appreciate your support!
I have Library materials that are several years overdue. Can I really return them now and not be charged late fees?
Yes. We welcome the return of all Library materials. You will not be charged overdue fines and your borrowing privileges will be restored.