Fines, fees and other charges

Public libraries in the United States are built upon a long tradition of public-private partnership. In fact, Auburn Public Library was forged from such a partnership when, in 1904, the City of Auburn accepted a grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build its beautiful, now-historic library building on Spring Street. Like the similar grants it made to other cities across the nation, the Carnegie Foundation’s grant of a new library building to the City of Auburn was contingent upon the City’s commitment to financially support the library collections and services the building would house.

Upon completion of the building in 1904, the City of Auburn established the private, nonprofit Auburn Public Library Corporation to provide the community with ongoing public library and information services. The City honored its commitment to the Carnegie Foundation, and continues to do so to this day, by appropriating tax dollars each year to the Library Corporation to fund the Library’s operating budget. Beyond the City’s annual appropriation, a Library development program has historically raised funds through donations and other means to help buffer the Library from short-term financial hardships.

Today, rising costs are rapidly exceeding local tax revenues. To keep pace with escalating costs and reduce the level of municipal tax appropriations needed to maintain acceptable levels of library service, the City of Auburn now requires the Library to raise an increasingly larger portion of its annual operating budget each year. This has necessitated that the Library establish new fundraising strategies, revenue streams, and job functions to raise the funds needed to maintain its services, collections, and facilities.

Although, with the exception of overdue fines, Libraries have for many reasons historically resisted charging direct fees to their patrons, one of the few dependable revenue streams available to libraries lacking sufficient other sources of funding are fines and fees.


Overdue charges (or fines) are well established in public library operations. This is because, in addition to providing income, they serve as an incentive for individual borrowers to comply with established loan periods by returning the items they borrow by their due dates. The timely return of materials borrowed allows libraries to maximize the availability of items in their collections for as many users as possible.

The Library assesses fines for each day a library item is overdue.

Fines are based on the type of material borrowed.

Fines are not assessed for days the Library is closed.

There is a maximum fine imposed per item if the item is returned in good condition. Maximum fines are set at different levels for different types of materials.

Fines may be waived by Library staff in cases where circumstances warrant.

Fees and Other Charges

Fees are charges assessed to recover certain costs or to enhance the Library’s ability to provide popular materials and services.

Current fees include:

  •  transaction fees – for borrowing audiobooks, popular videos and DVDs
  •  service fees – for specialized services, such as genealogy, obituary, and in-depth research
  •  partial recovery charges – for the direct and indirect costs associated with certain services, including:
    • photocopying
    • computer printing
    • document delivery
    • interlibrary loan
    • replacement of lost library cards
    • processing of reserved items never picked up
  • total recovery charges – for the direct and indirect costs to replace lost or damaged materials, including interlibrary loan items
  • subscription fees for nonresident borrowers (in lieu of the tax support received from residents) – to support general collections and services