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Camden County Library is now Fine Free!

Fine FreeThe Camden County Library System has eliminated fines for all overdue items as of July 1.

The library's mission is to provide equal access to information, services, and opportunities that empower, enrich, and enhance the quality of life for all. Eliminating overdue fees will further that mission by removing a significant barrier to the library's resources, county officials said.

"Camden County is joining with several other progressive communities around the country in removing this antiquated barrier to the services provided by the Library," Freeholder Melinda Kane, liaison to the Camden County Library System, said. "We should not be punishing individuals who want to read or learn, but instead be finding ways to encourage members of our community to utilize these valuable resources. With this change, economic security will no longer limit the capacity of families and children to learn in Camden County."

All outstanding overdue fees at each of Camden County's eight library branches have been forgiven as long as the overdue item has been returned or paid for. Some high demand items with limited availability, such as Grab and Go items and Museum Passes, will continue to utilize extended use fees. Materials that are owned by other libraries and borrowed through Interlibrary Loan will still be subject to fines.

The library will still utilize due dates on the materials it loans to members. After materials are due, members will maintain their standard borrowing privileges for 14 days. If after 14 days the item(s) has not been returned, then that member will lose their borrowing privileges until that item is returned or until the member has paid to replace it.

Many of the library's constituents struggle to afford an overdue fee for a book or video that they've failed to return. Instead of returning the items, fees tend to discourage these residents from returning to the library, officials said. Officials believe that eliminating fees will mean eliminating the need for families to choose between the library's services and their financial security.

Linda Devlin and Melinda Kane"There's a sense of shame and embarrassment that people feel when they walk into a library knowing that they have dozens or hundreds of dollars built up in unpaid fines. We've found that this feeling is not motivating, but is debilitating," Kane said. "Eliminating overdue fees does not mean that individuals who loan materials are devoid of responsibility for their items. It means that financially vulnerable members of our community aren't cut off from our resources."

"The Camden County Library System is committed to delivering critical resources to the communities it serves. Those resources include traditional items like books and periodicals, but also modern necessities such as access to a reliable internet connection and computer technology," Camden County Library Director Linda Devlin said. "Eliminating overdue fees and penalties will not affect our ability to deliver that goal. The revenue we derive from fines and fees represents just one quarter of one percent of the library's annual budget."

See the Fine Free FAQs.

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