We Are Fine Free!

Effective July 1, 2019, the library will become fine free! That means we will no longer charge fines for late materials. The primary purpose for the fine-free policy is to ensure equal access to library books and materials for all community members, regardless of socio-economic status.

Please review the information on this page to learn more about this new policy and how it affects cardholders.

Overdue Notice Schedule

7 Days Late First notice is sent and your account is frozen. You are no longer able to checkout materials until overdue item(s) are returned.
14 Days Late Second notice is sent advising that your account will be billed for the overdue item(s) if not returned within 14 days.
28 Days Late Third notice is sent and you will receive an invoice for the unreturned item(s).
60 Days Late A certified letter is mailed with notice that charges of theft may occur if the overdue item(s) are not returned within 10 days or if the invoice is not paid.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will I be notified about late/overdue item(s)?

You choose your preferred method of contact. The library offers notification via email, phone call, text, and mail.

What if I already have fines on my account?

We will waive any late/overdue fines remaining on accounts when the new fine-free policy goes into effect on July 1, 2019. However, fees for lost or damaged materials still stand and must be paid.

Why do you still charge fees if the library is fine free?

Fees apply to lost or damaged materials and the cost to repair and or replace those materials. If you lose or damage materials you checked out from the library, you are responsible for the costs associated with replacing or repairing those items.

Will I still be charged $0.50 if I don’t pick up an item I put on hold?

Yes. The $0.50 charge will continue for on hold/reserved items that are not picked up within seven (7) days of notification. This is to benefit all library members who are on a waiting list for a particular item, especially for more popular items and when there are limited copies available for check out.

Why are you eliminating late/overdue fines?

Fines can create a barrier to access, and as a public library, we strive to serve the public and provide equal access to resources. The mission of Carnegie-Stout Public Library is to improve the quality of life by providing resources for individual enjoyment, enlightenment, knowledge, and which enhance the literacy of youth. The elimination of fines will go a long way in helping to fulfill our mission.


• Motivation for a fine-free policy came from wanting to increase access to library resources, especially for children.

• During the last six months of 2018, the library conducted a fine free trial, not charging fines for overdue materials. Each month overdue materials were evaluated and compared to a time when fines were charged. Significant change in overdue material was not noticed and little change in the return of items was realized.

• When comparing the six month fine-free trial to a period when fines were charged, the number of youth borrowers increased 16.7 percent during the trial and those with limitations on their accounts fell by 4.2 percent.

• Following the fine-free trial, the library conducted a survey asking people to share their opinions about the fine-free trial. Ninety surveys were submitted at the library and online. The results were 84.5 percent in favor of the elimination of overdue fines and 15.5 percent were opposed the elimination of fines.

• Library Board of Trustees supported the elimination of overdue fines after the trial period, and now the Dubuque City Council has approved to the new fine-free policy at the library.