PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Prince William Public Libraries (PWPL) have eliminated late fees for past due books, in an effort to promote equity in the community.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted last week to eliminate local library fines from next year’s budget. The goal is to remove barriers to book access for low-income families and students.

This is not a new concept — PWPL removed fines during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in March 2020. The county chose not to re-implement the fines after conducting a data study.

Rachel Johnson from PWPL says that fines deter residents from checking out materials at the libraries.

“With removing late fees beginning July 1, we’re hoping that will bring even more people back, knowing that they’re no longer having to make a decision whether to pay a late fee or maybe another bill that they may have to pay,” said Johnson.

PWPL is now one of 280 library systems across the United States that are completely fine-free. However, patrons will still be responsible for paying for lost or damaged items.