RIPL Cardholders Are Fine Free in '23!

With a new year comes new policies, including the launch of Rock Island Public Library’s new fine-free policy for RIPL cardholders. As a result, late fines for Rock Island Public Library (RIPL) cardholders will be mostly a thing of the past.

Fine-free lending for RIPL cardholders starts with items checked out in 2023, with some exceptions. Scarce specialty items, such as hotspots and mobile streaming devices, cultural passes, and Library of Things collections will still accrue late fines when overdue. Items checked out in 2022 may still collect overdue fines if returned late. Please notify staff when returning overdue items with a 2022 checkout date. 

Other Exceptions

The Fine Free policy does not include replacement costs or damaged items. Items still need to be returned. Materials kept too long will be counted as lost, with the replacement charge billed to a patron's account. Lost, damaged, processing, and collection fees will still be charged, if necessary.

To encourage returns before items are billed, courtesy notices and friendly reminder notices will continue. LIbrary patrons can also track their checkouts with the PrairieCat mobile app and online catalog. 

The Fine Free policy will “follow” Rock Island patrons who use other libraries, but the reverse is not true for patrons of other libraries. Cardholders of non-Fine Free libraries will still incur overdue fines for late returns.

Fulfilling the Library's Strategic Plan

The policy was included in the Library's 2022-25 Strategic Plan, and thanks to the library's 2022 preparation efforts, is being launched a year early. The library dedicated the Rock Island Public Library Foundation's $4,000 Birdies for Charity pledge to the fine-free cause. Eight Fine Free Friday events in 2022 brought back 680 items and waived nearly $1,776 of late fines. 

Previous overdue fines have been purged, but replacement charges, processing fees, damages, or collection fees will remain on accounts. “If it’s been a while since you’ve used your card, call us,” said Christina Nobiling, Director of Circulation Services. “We’ll be happy to discuss options for reactivating your card.”

Overdue fines account for less than one percent of the Library’s overall budget, noted Angela Campbell, Director of the Rock Island Public Library. “Rather than motivating returns, fines are a source of anxiety that block people from coming back. As a matter of equity, we want our entire community to benefit from our lifelong learning opportunities. Libraries that have eliminated overdue fines have seen an increase in returns, and more use of library materials, and that’s the result we want to see, too. With a new fine-free policy for our cardholders, additional 150th anniversary events, and a new branch projected to open later in January, 2023 really is the Year of the Library in Rock Island,” she added.