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June 23, 2020


Contact: Nicholas A. Brown

PGCMLS is “Fine Free” Effective July 1

Largo, Maryland – The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) is proud to announce that the Library will be “fine free” beginning on July 1, 2020. The Library will waive all existing overdue fines from customer accounts when the policy takes effect. The new “fine free” policy ensures that all Prince Georgians have equitable access to the Library’s resources and services, while eliminating the financial barrier of overdue fines. Customers who previously had outstanding account balances will be able to resume borrowing physical and digital materials and access online library resources

“Having access to a thriving public library is one of the great benefits to life in Prince George’s County,” said CEO Roberta Phillips. “The elimination of overdue fines is an opportunity for the Library to embrace its commitment to equity by ensuring that all customers can easily borrow and return materials with greater flexibility.”

By adopting a “fine free” policy, PGCMLS will join the ranks of over 200 libraries across North America that have eliminated late fines since 2016, including San Francisco Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, and Chicago Public Library. This collective effort reflects the 2019 American Library Association “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity,” which highlights libraries’ responsibility to eliminate all barriers to access.

“By adopting this new policy, the Board of Library Trustees strongly endorses the idea that incidental fines should not become insurmountable obstacles for people who rely on the library’s valuable services,” said Brett Crawford, President, PGCMLS Board of Library Trustees. “The amount of fine-related revenue the Library system will lose is insignificant compared to the benefits we anticipate from ensuring no one is excluded from the Library, particularly those who need the Library the most.”

Library systems that have previously transitioned to the “fine free” model have witnessed increases in circulation, an uptick in new library card sign-up, and improved engagement with the community. Chicago Public Library reported a 240% increase in the return of borrowed materials within the first weeks of going “fine free.” An increase in returns will ensure that books and movies return to circulation and are readily available for other customers.

For Media:

PGCMLS CEO Roberta Phillips is available for interviews upon request.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System eliminate overdue fines?

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. By eliminating overdue fines, the Library’s collections, resources, and services are more accessible for all customers.

Will overdue fines be waived on all materials?

Overdue fines will be waived on materials owned by the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, including books, movies, and borrowable technology. Customers will be responsible for collection fees for any lost or damaged materials. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) materials that are not returned will incur a replacement fee for the customer.

Do I still have to pay a fine that was on my account prior to July 1?

Any existing overdue fines will be removed from accounts on July 1. Customers should return any items currently in their possession once the Library’s book drops reopen in July 2020 as part of the COVID-19 Phased Reopening Plan.

Why does my account have a balance if overdue fines have been waived?

Any new account balances after July 1 will be a result of lost or damaged materials, including PGCMLS-owned and Interlibrary Loan materials.

How will the Library get people to return borrowed materials?

Customers remain responsible for returning borrowed materials. If materials are not returned within 45 days of the final due date, the materials will be considered lost. Customers will be responsible for the replacement cost of any materials that are not returned.

Will I still receive reminders about returning materials?

3 Days Before Due Date: Courtesy Email

14 Days Overdue: Overdue Notice

30 Days Overdue: Second Overdue Notice

About the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 915,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve booklovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. The Books from Birth and Ready 2 Read programs make the Library the primary source of early literacy education and Kindergarten readiness programs in the County.

PGCMLS’ robust online offerings include curated content collections for kids, teens, educators, Spanish speakers, and more. Special programs include the D.R.E.A.M. Lab, STEM Pals, and 3D printing, which offer teens and lifelong learners with opportunities to learn cutting-edge technology and STEM skills for job readiness or personal enrichment. The Library’s Laurel Branch Library received the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award and was designated the best new public building in Maryland.