Effective September 1, 2021, the Cape May County Library System will no longer charge overdue fines on most library materials. While patrons will not be charged for late materials, items still need to be returned to the library. If an item is not returned within 21 days of the final due date or is returned damaged, library patrons will be charged for the item. Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, Chromebooks, projectors, and interlibrary loan materials borrowed from outside the Cape May County Library will still accrue overdue fines.
The Cape May County Library began the fine-free initiative in 2018 by eliminating overdue fines for children. The elimination of fines for children did not result in more lost materials, but rather, an increase in children using their library cards. Studies conducted by public libraries across the country show that patron borrowing habits do not negatively change when libraries go fine-free.“Our mission is to provide equitable access to library services and resources for all of our patrons” said CMCL Director Andrea Orsini. “Fines have been shown to create an unnecessary barrier to services, especially to those that can least afford to pay and most need our services. We are honored to join the other libraries nationwide who have elected to go fine-free.”
In response to the pandemic, The Cape May County Library has not charged overdue fines since March of 2020, and the Library Commission is pleased to make the fine-free initiative an official CMCL policy. To learn more about CMCL’s fine-free initiative, visit cmclibrary.org.
The Cape May County Library operates branches in Cape May City, Lower Township, Wildwood Crest, Cape May Court House, Stone Harbor, Upper Township, Sea Isle City, and Woodbine. The library has books, audiobooks, downloadable eBooks, video games, music, magazines, and movies. Thursday and Friday bookmobile services are temporarily on hiatus.