Collecting Fees and Fines for Library Material Policy

Hennepin County Library Administrative Policy


The purpose of this policy is to establish fair and consistent practices for collecting fees and fines for overdue, long overdue and lost library material. It defines expectations for the timely resolution of disputes and describes financial oversight and review.

Patron Responsibilities

Patrons are responsible for the library materials checked out on their cards and are expected to return materials in a timely manner. All patrons are subject to overdue fees and fines.

Patrons will maintain their account information. They will inform the library of any name or address changes and will notify the library immediately if their library card is lost or stolen.

To assist patrons with their responsibilities, patrons may:

  • Obtain date due slips at the time of check out
  • Sign up to receive courtesy email alerts before library materials come due
  • Access their account information via the library catalog/homepage

Patron Library Card Accounts

Patrons are informed of borrowing privileges and responsibilities (e.g. lending rules, fees and fines) when they receive their library card.

Fees and fines for overdue, long overdue or lost library material are charged to patron library card accounts. The Fee and Fine Schedule is used to determine the amounts that are charged.

Hennepin County Library does not pursue payment for damaged materials that are returned by patrons. Any payment for damaged material that a patron wishes to make will be gratefully accepted. Patrons who pay for damaged material may retain the damaged material.

Fees and fines may be paid in person by cash or check. If the balance is $2.00 or more payment may be made online with a credit card. Fees and fines of all types remain on patron accounts until they are paid.

Outstanding fees and fines may result in restricted borrowing privileges. The following restrictions will apply:

  • Outstanding charges under $10.00: Patrons are informed of their outstanding charges. Borrowing privileges are not restricted and the patron is not stopped at self-checkout.
  • Outstanding charges from $10.00-$49.99: The patron is stopped at self-checkout. Patrons may check out 2 items with 10% payment of charges. If any payment that is made brings the total amount still owed below $10.00, the patron may check out items up to the lending limit.
  • Outstanding charges of $50.00 or more: The patron is stopped at self-checkout. Patron must reduce his/her outstanding charges to less than $50.00 (minimum payment is 10% of the total balance) before the 2 item limit is restored. If payment brings the total amount still owed under $10.00, the patron may checkout up to the lending limit.
  • Outstanding fees and fines will not prevent patrons from accessing library computers or using downloadables and other online services.

Resolving Disputes

Staff will work with patrons to explain charges and resolve disputes. They will seek to balance the values of stewardship and patron access to library resources in their decision making.

Staff will discuss fees and fines only with the patron involved, or in the case of a minor child, with the parent or guardian. Staff may share information about patron accounts with other staff only to the extent necessary to resolve the service question at hand.

Circumstances may warrant staff to waive a patron’s fees and fines. Staff will apply fee and fine waivers fairly and equitably according to the following practices:

  1. Patron requests for a waiver will be resolved in a timely manner.
  2. Supervisors (or their designees) are responsible for determining if a fine should be waived. Designees may waive up to $50 in fines or fees per transaction. Supervisors are authorized to waive fines or fees in excess of $50.
  3. Upon waiving a fine or fee, supervisors (or their designee) must record in the library’s computer system that a fine or fee was waived, amount waived, and reason for the waiver.
  4. Staff may use the waiving activity record to determine if future waivers are warranted.

Refunds are not given for payment made on long overdue or lost material that is later found and returned. Long overdue and lost materials are not available to library patrons, and may no longer be of use by the time they are returned. Circumstances may warrant refunds and will be determined on a case by case basis.

Financial Oversight

Staff will follow established cash management procedures for collecting and depositing fees and fines.
Fee and fine waivers will be tracked at the administrative level and reviewed for irregularities.


The Library Director has authorized participants in the following programs and services to be exempt from overdue fines.

  1. Outreach Services is designed to serve patrons who cannot visit the library in person. Fines are not charged on materials checked out through these services.
    • Residents of Hennepin County correction and treatment facilities served by the Hennepin County Library Outreach Services Department.
    • Residents of senior housing sites in Hennepin County who use the deposit collections made available to them by the Hennepin County Library Outreach Services Department.
    • Patrons using Outreach’s At Home Service (mail and volunteer delivery).
  2. Fine Free Cards for Disabled Patrons issued before 2010. Fine free cards were discontinued in 2010. Fine free library cards that were issued to patrons before 2010 will continue to be honored. No additional fine free cards will be issued. Waiving of fees will be considered on a case by case basis.

Associated Library Board and Library Administrative Policies


This administrative policy is reviewed at least every three (3) years by the Library Services Division Manager (or designee) in conjunction with the Hennepin County Library Board’s review of the Fee and Fine Policy. Upon completion of the review, this policy is revised or reaffirmed.

Policy History

Next review: 01/2021
Last reviewed/revised: 01/2018
Adopted: 06/29/2011