Yellow background with illustrations of three people celebrating on a stack of books. There a colorful bunting in the upper left corner, black and white text, and the library's logo in the bottom right corner.
Monday, February 15, 2021

Chatham, IL-- Beginning on February 15, 2021, the Chatham Area Public Library will officially eliminate all fines on overdue materials for its library cardholders and registered reciprocal borrowers. In doing so, they will join an expanding group of libraries across Central Illinois - including libraries in Normal, Bloomington, Champaign, Effingham, Decatur, Clinton and Mattoon - and throughout the country who have gone fine-free.

In 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution declaring “monetary library fines a form of social inequity”, and last fall, their Library Board of Trustees began discussing the possibility of fine removal. After research and discussion, the Board recently voted unanimously to remove overdue fines. They determined that financially, because fines made up less than 1% of the library’s operating budget, that the Library could maintain the same level of service without that additional revenue. “Equity of access is at the core of our work, and I believe that our decision to go fine-free is a step toward that end. This is a path forward that reduces barriers to access for our patrons,” says Amy Byers, the Library’s Director

Going fine-free does not mean that all penalties are removed for those failing to return library items. Patrons will still be responsible for returning library materials and for payment of lost and damaged items. The daily, late fees are being removed, and now that the Library’s doors have opened back up for browsing, they hope that eliminating fines will also open doors for the community to view and connect with their Library in a new way.

Please contact the Library’s Director, Amy Byers, at [email protected], with any questions.