Fine Free

Fine Free

Great Falls Public Library is a fine free library! Please call 406-453-0349 for more information.

In 2020, the Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to forgive all outstanding late fines and eliminate the assessing of late charges on library accounts.While the vote was made in late May, the changes to the libraries software and accounting systems required time to be fully enacted. Around that time, an anonymous donation of $85,000 was made to the Great Falls Public Library Foundation and designated for capital improvements on the condition that the library proceed with Fine Free plans as outlined in the library’s 2023-2026 strategic plan (available on the library’s website here.).

Late fine payments accounted for roughly .07 percent of the library’s budget, and were not a significant source of funding. The library is hopeful that folks who are happy about the library’s efforts to serve the community will choose to support the library with donations to help make up for the lost revenue. Other libraries that have enacted fine free policies have seen an increase in returned items, meaning that their budget is not as impacted by having to purchase replacement materials.

The Great Falls Public Library has a policy of working with patrons to create payment plans for fines and fees. To continue to check out library materials, a patron must have a payment plan in place, or owe less than $5.00. However, patrons may not be aware of these options, and do not return to the library, making it impossible for library staff to communicate those options. This information is on the F.A.Q page of the library’s website here.

Patrons who have been blocked from using their library card due to late fines are encouraged to return to the library to update their card or get a replacement. Replacement cards themselves cost $1, however, patrons may use a photo id to verify their account information in order to check out materials.

Lost or damaged items still carry fees. Payment plans on lost and damaged items are available for as little as $5 per month. Patrons on payment plans are able to continue to check out library materials as long as they meet their monthly minimum.