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Fine free library

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library erases past due fines

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has gone fine free.

Currently, there are more than 150,000 cardholders in Mecklenburg County who carry balances of $10.00 or more, blocking their access to Library resources – and 40,000 of these accounts were blocked in just the last three years. Libraries are equalizers – they are indiscriminate of socioeconomic status, race, religion, creed, education, sexual identity, sexual orientation, political ideation or any other divisive constructs. We recognize that late or overdue fines have created barriers that discourage people, who cannot pay their fines, from using the library. By eliminating fines, the library encourages all users to return to the library, and attracts new users to experience our resources, services, programs and offerings.

From July 1, 2021, onward, County residents can be sure of one thing at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: Life happens, fines don’t.

Here are some points from the library:

• The Library is essential in helping to improve lives and build stronger communities by providing easy, free and equitable access to information through many different channels.

• Until today, there were more than 150,000 Library cardholders in Mecklenburg County barred from Library access. The reason? They carried balances of $10 or more on their accounts which suspended access to important Library resources and services.

• The Library understands we can’t improve lives or build a stronger community while keeping barriers in place that restrict access to integral resources and tools our neighbors need.

• Effective today, we invite customers with suspended accounts to return to the Library. Today, we say, “Life happens, fines don’t.”

• Not only is the Library eliminating late and overdue fines on materials as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, but ALL customers will also receive a one-time amnesty, removing any fees and fines on their accounts and returning all balances to zero. In other words, every Library customer will have a clean slate account beginning July 1.

• We’re asking cardholders with outstanding materials to return those items to any local branch (of course with no fear of fines).

• It is important for cardholders to know they are still responsible for borrowed materials. The complete fine free policy can be found at cmlibrary.org/finefree, but here are some things to note:

• If borrowed items are overdue by two weeks (14 days), the borrower will be suspended from checking out materials until that item is returned.

• If items are late for 30 days, a replacement charge will go on the borrower’s account.

• Replacement charges, of course, will be waived once items are returned to any Library branch within a calendar year.

• Customer accounts are suspended when fees or charges exceed $10.00. At that point, customers are unable to check out books or renew materials, but they can still use Library computers and access Library electronic resources.

• And while late and overdue fines are gone, the Library will still charge fees on Interlibrary Loans; non-resident library cards, photocopies, printing (B&W and color), room rentals and for Wi-Fi hotspots.

• The Library is thrilled to remove this economic barrier so that every neighbor in our community can enjoy equitable access to our services and collections.

• Remember, you can learn more about our fine free policy at cmlibrary.org/finefree

• And if you need a library card, stop by a local branch or sign up for a card online at cmlibrary.org/getacard. Your Charlotte Mecklenburg Library card gets you immediate access to millions of enjoyable resources such as books, e-books, audiobooks, e-audiobooks, music, movies and more - all for FREE.

• We look forward to seeing you at the Library again soon