Late fees and fines are things of the past at Huntsville public libraries

Huntsville-Madison County Public Library System announced that late fees no longer apply at their libraries. (HMCPLS)

If you’re anything like me, you have certainly been late returning a library book once or twice (or a dozen) times in your life. And in doing so, you were subjected to paying a fine for being late.

Well, rest easy, procrastinators, because the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library System announced that late fees no longer apply at their libraries — and that includes past and present fines alike.

What this means

Late notices will still come your way, and you’ll be responsible for paying for lost books, but your account won’t be blocked due to late fees. (HMCPLS)

So, does this mean you will never hear from the library again if you keep a book too long? Not exactly.

This means all past-due fines are forgiven, and no more will be accrued. Late notices will still come your way, and you’ll be responsible for paying for lost books, but your account won’t be blocked due to late fees.

“We are proud to join the hundreds of libraries nationwide who are ensuring open access to library materials by going fine-free. It is important that the children in our community are able to access books without the threat of overdue fines so they have an opportunity to increase their literacy levels.”

Cindy Hewitt, Executive Director of HMCPL

Why go fine-free?

HMCPL will be the first large library system in Alabama to go fine-free. (HMCPL )

HMCPL will be the first large library system in Alabama to go fine free. The decision is a result of research gathered within HMCPL’s system and analysis by other library systems that have already gone fine free.

The move is motivated in part by the Alabama Literacy Act, a plan to improve reading proficiency of public school students from kindergarten to third grade. 

With summer reading around the corner, the Library hopes to see an increase in library usage amongst students to limit the summer slide- a loss of reading skills that typically happens during the school break. 

“The public library is an essential community asset tasked with meeting the information needs of all persons in the community,” Hewitt said. “By becoming a fine-free library, HMCPL will welcome back customers, gain new customers, as well as realign staff time towards meeting this mission moving forward.”

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Michael Seale
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