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Mission Viejo is a Fine Free Library

fine free

As the Mission Viejo Library celebrates 25 years since its grand opening, we are entering a new era of library service. Beginning October 1, all library late fines will be permanently eliminated. What does this mean for our patrons?

  • No new overdue fines will be charged to library patrons
  • Existing overdue fines have been waived
  • The library will still charge for lost or damaged items
  • Items will be considered lost when they are 30 days overdue

We invite all of our patrons to return to the library with any outstanding overdue loans free of charge. 
Why eliminate fines?

In 2016, the Mission Viejo Library implemented more user-friendly policies to remove barriers to library service. Our goal was to increase usage of the library collection and services and maximize the number of people in our community who could benefit from our offerings. These policies included automatic renewal of items with no holds and increasing the number of renewals allowed. Those practices were successful. Far fewer patrons accrued fines, and library usage skyrocketed. Annual circulation went from 780,000 to 1.2 million in just a couple of years. 

Elimination of overdue fines is a natural continuation of these user-friendly policies. Libraries that have implemented fine-free policies typically see a 200 percent increase or greater in lost materials returned to the library.

If you have questions about the fine-free policy, see the FAQ section below, or feel free to call the library or talk to any staff members at the checkout desk. Happy reading!


Fine Free FAQs

Why are you removing overdue fines?

Beginning in 2016, the Mission Viejo Library started implementing more user-friendly policies with the goal of reducing barriers for our patrons and increasing usage of library collections and services. These policies include auto-renewal and increased number of renewals allowed, and they were hugely successful; library usage skyrocketed! Elimination of overdue fines is a natural continuation of these user-friendly policies and will allow more people to enjoy all that the library has to offer.

What does this mean for library patrons?

Great news: all existing overdue fines have been waived, and no new overdue fines will be charged! We will still charge for lost and damaged items, but if an item has been billed as lost and the patron returns it, all charges will be waived. We want to make it as easy as possible to restore your account to good standing.

What if I don't return my items?

If you have $10 or more in lost items, your card will be blocked from checking out additional items and you will be billed for the replacement cost of the item(s), plus a processing fee
If there are no fines, how will you ensure that patrons return their items to the library?

Patrons are expected to return items to the library in a timely manner. We will continue to offer courtesy notices via email, print mailers, or SMS notifications. Notices alert users 2 days before an item is due if it can no longer be renewed. Please read the notice thoroughly as not all items may be eligible for renewal.

Patrons will also receive overdue notices after 2 days, 14 days, and 21 days, and at 30 days overdue the item is declared lost (the previous threshold was 60 days). The patron will be unable to check out additional items until any lost items have been paid for or returned. Returning an item that has been set to lost status will remove all charges related to that item. 

Can I still renew items? 

Eligible items will be automatically renewed. A library item cannot be renewed if another patron has a hold on it, or if the maximum number of renewals (10) has been reached.

Will this make holds lists longer?

We monitor our holds lists and order additional copies as needed to meet demand. This practice will not change with fine elimination.

How will this affect the Library's budget?

Fine revenue amounted to less than 1% of the library's budget. The revenue loss was easily offset by reduced costs for fine collection and increased revenues in our passport services.