Fine Free Pilot Project

Update: Wyndham Robertson Library conducted a pilot project to remove ordinary overdue fines in 2016. The pilot was successful and became part of the library’s official borrowing policies in 2017.  This page explains the changes we made, and our reasons.

What we are doing

Wyndham Robertson Library is conducting a pilot project to test a new model for library use.

  • Undergraduate students can check out books for an entire semester (120 days). At the end of the 120 days students must either renew, or return the book.
  • There will be no daily overdue fines for books or films.
  • The undergraduate checkout limit will be 50 total books and/or films.
  • You will receive regular emails to remind you of what you have checked out from the library.
    (For help, see What can I do if I am not receiving notices?)

Why we are doing it

The library’s mission is to provide access, not charge fees. Research shows that overdue fines have a negative effect on the community by becoming a barrier to access. Furthermore, studies have also shown that overdue fines are not actually an effective method for getting people to return materials. If people need books beyond the due date, many will keep them regardless of the fine. Simply put: library fines stop people from using the library – and they don’t work.

There is a better way: libraries where fines have successfully been eliminated (for example, the College of William & Mary) have done this by extending due dates, allowing people to use materials longer. If materials aren’t returned after the loan ends, there is a fee for replacement.

Click here for comments from the Library’s Student Advisory Board.

Shouldn’t people be responsible for what they borrow?

Absolutely. Replacement fees remain in effect and emails will be sent to remind you of what you have checked out:

  • If items are not returned or renewed after 120 days, one courtesy and several overdue notices will be sent.
  • After 29 days the library will charge a fee to replace the item. If the item is returned promptly, the replacement fee may be reversible.

Are all library fees going away?

No. Overdue fines for reserves and recalls will remain in effect. This policy ensures that high-use items cannot be monopolized; they will still be accessible to others who need them.

Daily overdue fines that have already been applied to your account before this change will be forgiven. (This applies to Hollins-owned items only).

What if I need a book that someone else has checked out?

  • Request a copy via Interlibrary Loan (ILL), and we will borrow it for you from another library. ILL is a fast and efficient way to get any item which is not on our shelves.
  • If ILL is not an option, you can place a recall and the original borrower will be asked to return the item sooner. However, we first recommend using ILL.

What if a book I have checked out is recalled?

  • If an item you have checked out is recalled, you will have 7 days to return it. After 7 days, recall overdue fees will apply.
  • The fine for late return of a recalled item is $1 per day. Borrowers with overdue recalled items are blocked; they cannot check out or renew other items until the recall has been returned.
  • You can request another copy via Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Will this become a permanent change?

We sincerely hope so.  

We must be responsible stewards of the library, whose entire collection is the property of the Hollins community. Our staff will assess the impact of the change after one year; if our findings show that going “fine free” has had no significant negative impact on the library’s collections or services we will make the change permanent.

What do I do if I get a notice from the library?

If you have any questions about library notices, services etc., please come ask us. Or call 540-362-7465, or email us.

What can I do if I am not receiving notices?

Not receiving emails does not remove your responsibility to keep track of the items you have borrowed and their due dates. Your library record may be accessed at any time at My Account.

  • If you are not receiving our courtesy email notices, please check your spam folder and adjust your email settings accordingly.
  • If you do not find our emails in your inbox or spam folders, contact the library as soon as possible.

Please remember…

This change represents significant alterations in both Hollins and Roanoke College’s library procedures and computer systems. This is new territory, and we may make mistakes as we begin. Talk to us: we are here to help you.  

Phone: (540) 362-7465


Comments from the library’s Student Advisory Board

“Personally, as a senior who is working on a year-long thesis, I am absolutely in favor of extending checkout periods to the whole semester. Even in classes outside of my thesis it is extremely common for professors to assign semester-long research projects that have multiple due dates throughout the semester, in which case students need sources checked out for essentially the entire semester.” -Lauren Earley ’16

“When we are writing papers, we start by building a bibliography and any good student starts doing this at least a month before their paper is due and even a month is cutting it a bit close considering we all have busy schedules. When the due date comes up for an item and we can’t renew it, we have to keep it past the due date despite the fines because we need it desperately for our paper or assignment. It would help significantly if students could check out library materials without worrying about the burden of library fines which can add up and becomes one more debt that we have to pay.” -Tena Gilleard ’18


Last updated: January 29, 2021 at 17:26 pm