Accessibility statement

We’re saying farewell to fines forever!

Posted on 21 September 2022

When the pandemic began, we suspended all fines for returning books late. The last thing our students and staff needed to worry about during lockdown was trying to get items back to the library. It’s now two and a half years since we made this temporary decision, and that period has effectively been a successful trial for a fine-free library - so we are delighted to announce that we’ve decided to make the change permanent.

A woman waves at a laptop

The main reason libraries charge fines is to give people a good reason to bring books back on time, so other users can borrow them. Our York community has shown that we don’t need to charge people money in order to make the loan system work - you’ve all done your bit, bringing items back promptly and ensuring everyone has access to the books they need. During a cost of living crisis we don’t want to add to anyone’s financial difficulties, and we don’t want anyone to be prevented from accessing the knowledge in our collections because they’re unable to pay off a fine. Plus fines aren’t completely successful as a deterrent for bringing back books late anyway: if they were, we’d never have collected any in the past…

For this system to continue to work, we need you all to continue to play your part, and make our library work for the whole community. As a library we believe our role is to empower our communities to be knowledgeable, active, global citizens through learning, discovery, and research. Staying fine-free will help us achieve these aims. Thank you for helping us save farewell to fines forever!

Frequently asked questions

If someone has a book I need to borrow, what’s their incentive for bringing it back if there are no fines?
Our students and staff are responsible, and respect the need for our resources to be available to the whole community. What’s more when you have a book on loan which is requested by another user, once that book becomes overdue you can’t borrow any more items until it is returned. This has proved to be enough to make sure people bring their books back over the last two and a half years.

What happens if I lose a book?
Lost item charges still apply. You can find out more about that on our Charges page

Does this apply to just books, or to everything?
The no-fines policy applies to all Flexible Loans - to books, CDs, DVDs, scores and so on. It doesn’t apply to laptop-loans, or locker-keys, for which late charges still occur.

If I graduated 30 years ago and just found a book I borrowed from you, can I return it now and not pay a fine?
Yes! We won’t charge you a penny, so this is a great time to return the book you only realised you had a decade or two after you were meant to return it…