Home Lifestyle ICYMI: Hoboken Public Library is Saying Goodbye to Fines for Good

ICYMI: Hoboken Public Library is Saying Goodbye to Fines for Good

by Ainsley Layland
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The Hoboken Public Library was established through the philanthropy of Martha Bayard Stevens and opened in 1897. More than 130 years later, the library continues to provide  free and open access to knowledge for everyone in our community. In order to continue this tradition, the library is now a FINE-FREE library. Keep reading to learn more about the fine-free policy and how to sign up for a Hoboken Public Library card.

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About the Decision

The Library first tried a ‘Fine-Free Summer’ in 2019, and what was learned then is that late fees did not really work as a motivator to return books on time,” Library Director, Jennie Pu told Hoboken Girl. “In fact, what did turn up was that late fines actually barred some people from being able to use the library. So the Board of Trustees voted in November of 2021 to make Fine-Free a permanent feature of the Hoboken Public Library.”

Fines for overdue materials are increasingly seen as counterproductive and out of line with the core library values of providing equal access to materials and resources. Reducing or removing late fees completely is  a trend seen throughout the local region. Recently, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Queens Public Library, and suburban libraries such as those in Union and Maplewood, have also done away with late fees.

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Until now, if a customer had a fine of $10 or more at the Hoboken Public Library, that customer could not borrow additional materials until the fine was paid down. Fines accumulated, increasing the burden to the customer, sometimes to an onerous degree. This presented a challenge for the customer who could not borrow, and the library that did not get the material back. With the new fine-free policy, as long as the material is returned, everybody wins.

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“Fine-Free applies to items owned by the Hoboken Public Library,” said the Library Assistant Director, Rosary Van Ingen. “If a borrowed item is owned by another library in our consortium, and is returned late, then that other library’s fine still applies.”

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How it Will Work

To be clear, this new policy does not mean patrons can build up a mini library at home without cost.

“To clarify, ‘fine-free’ does not mean our customers get to keep our items forever. We automatically renew items once or twice, depending upon the item and if there is someone else waiting for it,” said Rosary. “We send gentle reminders by email if an item is overdue. But if an item is not returned after 90 days, we will bill the customer for the item’s replacement value.”

Click here for more information on this program, and all the services the Library provides.

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Sign Up for a Hoboken Public Library Card

Library patrons can get a library card in-person at one of the three branches in Hoboken, or click here to apply online. If you already have a library card but it has expired, you can renew it by sending an email to [email protected].

Adult Library Cards

Adult Hoboken residents must present a photo ID with proof of their current Hoboken address and the applicant’s name. This card gives full borrowing privileges for Hoboken Public Library materials as well as allows for interlibrary loan privileges including JerseyCat, use throughout the BCCLS (Bergen County Cooperative Library System) consortium, and access to all eContent. Cards are renewable every three years. Library card holders are encouraged to keep their contact information updated. Click here to view the full list of acceptable forms of ID to be presented with proof of Hoboken residency.

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Young Adult Library Cards

Hoboken teens in 6th through 12th grades will be issued a Young Adult library card based on the rules listed for adults. If a teen does not have a photo ID then another form of ID such as a letter from their school, a parent or guardian’s lease or utility bill will be accepted instead.

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Juvenile Hoboken Library Cards

Juvenile Hoboken Library Cards are issued to Hoboken resident children from birth to 12 years of age. Proof of parents’ or legal guardians’ residency must be presented with the application. This usually takes the form of a valid NJ Drivers License with a current Hoboken address, or a utility bill with a picture ID, such as a passport. These cards expire in three years, after which proof of residency must be resubmitted.

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The Hoboken Public Library has three locations throughout Hoboken. The Main branch is located at 500 Park Avenue, the Grand Street branch is located at 124 Grand Street, and the Learning Center at HHA is located at 400 Harrison Street. Patrons can call 201-420-2346 for hours and with questions 

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