Fine Free

We are committed to providing equitable access to information for all.

Teaneck Public Library’s core mission is to provide equitable access to information, and it has been demonstrated that even small monetary fines present a very real economic barrier to access library materials and services, especially for already vulnerable populations including seniors, children, and economically disadvantaged families.

These kinds of financial barriers can discourage many people who rely on the Library, which means they can’t access books required for schoolwork, use public computers or job resources, or simply have a safe, open, welcoming space to visit.

Studies have shown that late fees have very little impact on the percentage of library materials that are returned on time, and the elimination of late fees leads to greater usage of library information, services, and resources.

Beginning June 14, 2021, Teaneck Public Library will not charge overdue fees on Teaneck library materials, with the exception of museum passes, WIFI hotspots, and children’s launchpads.

Fine Free FAQ

Why is the library eliminating overdue fines?

It’s good for Teaneck! Our community is stronger and healthier when all people have access to 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 all that the library has to offer.

Have other libraries eliminated overdue fines?

Yes. Hundreds of libraries throughout the United States have eliminated overdue fines, including the neighboring towns of Hackensack, Englewood, and Fair Lawn, and other BCCLS libraries including Livingston, Maplewood, Montclair, and more. Many libraries throughout the country have also eliminated overdue fines, including libraries in large cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and much more.

But don’t overdue fines ensure that people return library materials on time?

Actually, no. Overdue fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have virtually no impact on return rates. Once someone incurs a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries who have removed late fees report few adverse affects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Other libraries have actually experienced an increase in return rates after the adoption of fine free policies, as previous users who had stopped using the library return.

Will there still be due dates?

Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. If an item is not returned on time, automated reminders will continue to be sent out after the due date. Library cards will continue to be blocked if an item is not returned after 60 days. Items that are over 90 days late will not be accepted as returns. The full replacement cost must be paid for any items that are over 90 days late.

What if I borrow items from another BCCLS library?

Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine. Teaneck Public Library is not charging late fines on items we own or send to other BCCLS Libraries. 

Do any Teaneck items still have late fees?

Yes, a few. Museum passes, WIFI hotspots, and children’s launchpad tablets will still have applicable late fees.