Fine Free FAQ

fine free

Effective November 16, 2020, overdue fines will not be charged for undamaged items returned to the library.

A fine is an overdue charge applied to items returned late. We will no longer charge fines for items returned undamaged containing all original parts.
A fee is a charge for lost, unreturned, or damaged items, a charge for a non-resident card, etc. We will continue to charge fees. See the official policy for more information about fees: Library Materials- Fees and Fine-Free Policy

Why is Manatee Library eliminating overdue fines?

We want community members to return to using library resources! Overdue fines can create a significant barrier to library use, especially for minors and those with limited financial resources. Fines for overdue materials discourage customers from accessing the invaluable resources that our library system offers such as free technology, literacy, and lifelong learning. By moving to a fine-free system, the Board of County Commissioners reinforces the County’s commitment to equity and inclusion and to remove barriers to resources for many community members.

Have other public library systems eliminated overdue fines?

Yes. In the United States, over 400 library systems have adopted fine-free policies, and the number is growing. In Florida, the Alachua County, Citrus County, Homestead, Jacksonville, Miami-Dade County, Orange Beach, Palm Beach County, Pasco County, Sarasota County, St. Lucie County, and Tampa-Hillsborough library systems have adopted fine-free policies while others are adopting partial fine-free policies.

What are some of the advantages of a fine-free policy for libraries?

Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that library card registrations and the number of materials borrowed increased; more library items were returned overall; more students returned to using the library’s homework resources; and staff time was redirected from handling fine transactions to being more focused on customer service and information needs.

Won’t eliminating overdue fines reduce revenue?

Although revenue will no longer be received from payment of overdue fines, Manatee County has decided it is far more valuable to the community to increase access to library collections.

Are there still due dates for library materials?


DVD Movies

1 week

Museum passes (due date= pass expiration date)

Up to 1 week


2 weeks

New Books

2 weeks

STEM/Early Literacy kits, Playaways and Launchpads

3 weeks

Books, audiobooks, music CDs, and periodicals

3 weeks

Non-fiction DVDs

3 weeks

Cake pans, binoculars, musical instruments

3 weeks

Book Club in a Bag

4 weeks

Digital content automatically expires


Can items be renewed?

Yes. Please note that Manatee Library’s system is enabled with Auto-Renewal, which means that some items checked out to a patron will automatically be renewed up to 3 times except: museum passes, some special items such as telescopes, items requested by another patron, for accounts blocked by fees, interlibrary loans, and digital items.

What happens if an item is not returned?

The cardholder’s account will be charged for the full cost of unreturned items 21 days after the due date. The account will then be blocked from checking out other items and accessing many digital resources.

Replacement charges and the block on the account will be removed when 1) the undamaged item is returned, 2) the replacement cost has been paid, or 3) a replacement item (in new or very good condition, same format/ISBN) has been provided. A $3.00 processing fee will be assessed for each lost and damaged item to cover the library’s processing costs.

All fees are non-refundable. Returned lost and paid materials are not eligible for a refund.

Cardholders with blocked accounts may still use library computers, read materials inside the library, and attend library programs.

If patrons have older overdue fines, do they still have to pay them?

No. Past overdue fines (assessed before November 16, 2020) have already been removed from cardholder accounts.

Fees charged for unreturned, incomplete, or damaged items remain on the cardholder account.

Can patrons get refunds for past overdue fine payments?

No. Overdue fines paid before this policy was enacted (November 16, 2020) are not eligible for refunds.