So Long, Late Fines. Hello, Library!

Late Fines Elimination Public Post

We’re happy to announce that Toronto Public Library will permanently end late fines for everyone, which will remove a barrier to access and make the library more welcoming to all Torontonians.

Here are more details on what this means for you:

  • We already eliminated late fines for children in 2021, and have not been charging late fines since March 2020 as a way to make library services more accessible during the pandemic.

  • Although our updated policies won’t officially go into effect until June 1, 2022 (see below for details), TPL will continue to not charge late fines and you won’t have to pay any late fines currently owing on your account. Any outstanding late fines on your account were cleared on April 18, 2022.

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.

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.


Upcoming Changes

Toronto Public Library terms and conditions related to fines, fees, holds and borrowing privileges will change on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. Here are some highlights to expect:


Fines and Fees

  • No late fines for anyone
  • No replacement fee for lost library cards


Holds

  • 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+)


Borrowing

  • Maximum 50 physical items checked out at once
  • Borrowing privileges will be temporarily suspended if a customer has 10 or more overdue items and/or $100 or more 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

On Wednesday, June 1, 2022, these and a few more updates will be reflected on our Membership, Circulation and Collection Use Policies and Fines and Fees pages.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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:
May 11 to add 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.