New Orleans Public Library Board Approves Fine-Free Policy

The New Orleans Public Library is officially fine free system-wide, after Library Board approved the new policy on March 12.

In 2019, the Library eliminated fines for youth materials in an effort to remove economic obstacles for New Orleans youth. Less than a year later, the Library suspended fines on all overdue items in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emily Painton, executive director and city librarian, said eliminating fines has not impacted the Library’s operating budget or resulted in fewer items being returned.

“We’ve been effectively operating without fines for almost four years with no adverse effects to our budget or circulation,” Painton said. “Studies show that the threat of fines often discourages people from using their public library. It’s our mission to remove barriers to information, not create them, which is why we’re so excited to finally make this change permanent.”

The decision to remove fines aligns the New Orleans Public Library with the American Library Association’s 2019 “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity,” Painton said.

“The American Library Association asserts that imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services,” Painton said. “We believe that officially removing the punitive nature of late fines supports our Strategic Plan’s theme of equity and reinforces our commitment to providing services to everyone in our community.”

The new policy does not apply to Interlibrary Loan (ILL) fines, which are $1/day for overdue materials. The materials circulated through ILL do not belong to the New Orleans Public Library and are therefore not included in the Library’s collection policy. Under the new policy, fees for lost or damaged items will still apply. Cardholders with lost materials on their account are charged the cost of the item but are waived upon return.

For details about the Library’s policies and procedures, please visit

About New Orleans Public Library:

With origins dating back to 1843, the New Orleans Public Library has grown from a single French Quarter house with a few volumes into a city-wide system serving all of Orleans Parish with 15 locations

throughout the City. The Library’s mission is to transform lives, enrich neighborhoods, and preserve history.

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