So Long, Late Fines. Hello, Library!
We’re happy to announce that Toronto Public Library has permanently ended late fines for everyone, which removes a barrier to access and makes the library more welcoming to all Torontonians. As a result, we’ve updated some library card terms and conditions related to fines, fees, holds and borrowing. These updates are permanent and came into effect on June 1, 2022. See our Membership, Circulation and Collection Use Policy or the section below for highlights.
Studies have shown there’s no evidence that late fines are an incentive to return materials on time. In fact, libraries that have eliminated late fines report the opposite. Late fines also create a barrier that prevents some customers from using the range of library services. By eliminating late fines, TPL joins hundreds of major libraries in North America who have done the same.
What Has Changed
Toronto Public Library terms and conditions related to fines, fees, holds and borrowing privileges changed on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Here are some highlights:
Fines and Fees
- No late fines for anyone
- No replacement fee for lost library cards
- No charge for holds not picked up for children (age 0-12) and teens (age 13-17)
- Resume $1 per item charge for holds not picked up for adults (age 18+)
- Maximum 50 physical items checked out at once
- Borrowing privileges will be temporarily suspended if a customer has more than 10 items overdue and/or more than $100 in charges
- Overdue items past 30 days will be assumed lost and the customer will be billed for the replacement cost
- A refund will be issued up to 90 days after a lost item has been paid for and returned
- Customer accounts that have $50 or more in charges will be referred to the collection agency after 70 days overdue. A $15 non-refundable administrative fee will apply.
Beginning Wednesday, June 1, 2022, these and a few more updates are reflected throughout our website, including our Membership, Circulation and Collection Use Policy, and Fines and Fees pages.
See you soon!
Whether it’s been a week, a year or a decade since we last saw you, we look forward to having you back! We hope you’re as excited about the news of late fines elimination as we are to share it. Please help us get the word out by telling your friends, family and communities.
If you have any questions or concerns about your library account or about using Toronto Public Library – no matter how long it’s been – please contact Answerline, visit a branch or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much will this cost the library?
Revenue from late fines accounts for 1.2% of TPL’s annual operating budget. And, given the growing popularity of digital materials (which do not accumulate fines), as well as providing customers with more tools to manage their borrowing, that percentage will continue to decrease. In addition to funding from the City of Toronto, the Toronto Public Library Foundation and its donors have generously contributed $600,000 specifically toward fines elimination.
If you’ve got the means and are moved to support the Toronto Public Library Foundation and the work it does for your library, learn about all the ways to give.
- Will this increase wait times for library items?
Given the experience of other library systems that have gone fine-free, we don’t expect wait times for library items will increase. Customers will still be responsible for bringing back their borrowed items on time so that everyone can have easy and timely access to our collections. To help customers keep track of their due dates, we’ll continue to send customers reminders to return their materials.
- What about lost items and replacement charges?
Customers are responsible for returning the library items they’ve borrowed. If something is lost, damaged or not returned and considered by the library as long overdue, the customer will still be billed and need to pay the replacement cost.
- What if I currently have late items from the library?
If you have late items from the library, bring them back as soon as possible and avoid being billed any lost charges. Don't worry, there won't be any late fines.
- What if I have found a really late item from the library?
It doesn't matter how late they are, we welcome all library items back! Again, don't worry, there won't be any late fines.
- Do I still have to pay the late fine that was on my account prior to TPL going fine-free?
TPL cleared any outstanding late fines on customer accounts on April 18, 2022. Customers will still be responsible for paying replacement costs for any materials lost, damaged or not returned.
For more information, including key facts, please see our news release.
Page update details: June 16: Added additional clarification to the last bullet in the Borrowing section. June 3: Added bullet highlighting collection agency referral. June 1: Changed the tense used throughout the page from future, to past & present, as the end of late fines and the associated updated library card terms and conditions have come into effect. May 31: Clarified item #2 under Borrowing section. May 11: added Upcoming Changes section, added April 18, 2022 as date when outstanding late fines were cleared, updated FAQ 6 to indicate outstanding late fines were cleared on April 18, 2022.