Policy UL-AD20 Fines

Main Policy Content


  • Purpose
  • Background
  • Why does the University Libraries charge fees?
  • Who decides how much the fees will be?
  • Who will be charged?
  • Recovery of Libraries' Materials
  • Cross References


To describe the University Libraries’ policy on fees and fines relating to circulating materials.


Library materials are a shared resource. Library circulation policies are designed to ensure fair and equitable access to those resources. Loan periods and restrictions on renewals are in effect to keep library materials flowing through the system so that all borrowers may receive the maximum benefit from the collections. 

Fines are sanctions levied on behalf of the library user community on users who inconvenience or put others at a disadvantage when they do not abide by the guidelines of considerate conduct defined by circulation policies.

Fines are in effect for materials in high demand such as, but not limited to, videos, course reserve materials, materials loaned through special permission, and books recalled from one borrower to be made available to the next borrower.

Any item not returned within the established timeframe (due date) will be presumed lost and replacement fees will be assessed against the borrower’s account. 


Bills and invoices are issued to the account holder for the replacement of lost and damaged materials to ensure that the Libraries is able to preserve the integrity of the collections and recover costs for processing replacement materials.  

Borrowers who violate library policies with which fines are associated will also be billed.


The fine and fee schedule is determined by the Libraries Fee Review Committee in consultation with appropriate librarians and agents of the University and approved for implementation by the University Controller as described in UL-AD10. The fees are set forth in the Libraries Fee Structure.

Note: Penn State Hershey’s George T. Harrell Health Sciences Library and Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law H. Laddie Montague, Jr., Law Library fee structures vary for some fines and fees. Contact staff of the circulation department for further information:

H. Laddie Montague, Jr., Law Library:

  • Carlisle 717-240-5267
  • University Park 814-865-8861

Harrell Health Sciences Library:

  • Hershey 717-531-8626


All categories of borrowers are subject to library charges, no borrower is exempt. The Libraries will suspend borrowing privileges if an account holder does not pay accumulated fees and fines. In addition:

  • For students, fees assessed against a library account that are not paid before the end of the current semester will be charged to the student's Bursar account and appear on the “Semester Tuition Bill.
  • For current University employees, if replacement costs for lost materials are not received within 6 months from notification that the money is due at the Libraries, payment will be payroll deducted.  For all other fees, if payment is not received within 60 days, payment will be payroll deducted. Additional fees may be charged by Payroll Office, a department of the Corporate Controller, for this process.
  • For all other categories of borrowers, if fees assessed against their library account are not paid or overdue books are not returned within 60 days of the due date, the account will be forwarded to a collection agency for action.


The University Libraries reserve the right to initiate legal proceedings to recover library materials.

Penn State Libraries retains the right to its property.  Unreturned items remain the property of University Libraries, regardless of fees paid.


Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

UL-AD10 – Fees

Guideline UL-ADG07 -- Fee Adjustments (Staff Only)

Guideline UL-ADG08 – Fees and Fines Waivers (Staff Only)

ATTACHMENTS: (revised annually)

Fee Structure

Effective Date: March 17, 2008
Date Approved: March 17, 2008 (Dean's Library Council)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • February 11, 2022 - Revised
  • July 14, 2014 -- Fee structure converted to web-accessible version.
  • November 21, 2011 -- Revised to separate fees policy from fines policy and provide a clearer, more instructive articulation of UL-AD20.
  • March 17, 2008 – New policy

Last Review Date:  February 2022