Fine Free FAQ

On February 24, 2022, the Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees voted to update library policy in order to eliminate overdue fines for all library materials. This service change was preceded by eliminating all late fines for Childrens and Teen materials in June 2019. The Iowa City City Council adopted an ordinance in support of the Library Board's policy change to eliminate overdue fines for all Iowa City Public Library materials in March 2022.

Iowa City Public Library patrons will no longer incur fines for returning library materials past their due dates. This change goes into effect on Friday, July 1, 2022.


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Why is ICPL going Fine Free?

Overdue fines disproportionally affect children and low-income households. Late fines may create a financial barrier for people in accessing library materials. Libraries that have gone Fine Free have reported less stigma and increased likelihood for patrons to re-engage with their library and its services as a result. 


Will my current fines be removed from my account?

No. The fine-free change is not retroactive, and does not eliminate unpaid fines that patrons already had on their library account prior to the change going into effect. Cardholders will still be responsible for fines assessed prior to the change.

Will I still need to pay if I have lost a book?

Yes. If any library book or item is lost or damaged its cost will be billed to the cardholder’s account. We do not charge daily late fines, so there are no charges for any item you return late, once you return it. Cardholders will remain responsible for lost or damaged items at four months overdue when the item is permanently removed from the collection.

Can I use my library card if I have fines on my card?

Library cards with unpaid fines less than $10 can be used to borrow materials. Patrons with unpaid fines $10 or more cannot check out materials or access digital resources.

Can I work out a payment plan for my current fines?

We don't have a formal payment plan. Limited borrowing may be permitted while the fines on your account are being paid off. Please speak with Customer Service at 319-887-6027 to discuss options.

When and how will I be notified about overdue items?

We will email or mail you an overdue notification at certain times based on the item type. The table outlines when we will send a first and sometimes second overdue notice for past due items. The last column identifies when your account will be billed for an unreturned item.

Item Type 1st Overdue Notice 2nd Overdue Notice Item Billed
Nonfiction DVDs
1 Week 
2 Weeks
3 Weeks
2 Days
1 Week
2 Weeks
DVD Players
1 Day
2 Weeks
CD Players
1 Day
3 Days


What if I have a special circumstance? Who should I contact?

Contact Iowa City Public Library Customer Service at 319-887-6027.

If I am unable to use my card, can I still use the library to read books, use the computers, or attend events?

Yes. Anyone can use public computers and Wi-Fi, read books, do research, attend Library events and use online databases in-house without a library card.

How can I continue to support the ICPL?

There are many ways you can make an impact on the Iowa City Public Library.

Gifts to the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation supplement funding from local, state, and federal governments.