Circulation Fines and Fees

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An overdue notice is automatically generated and sent out by e-mail or mail the day an item is due. An additional notice generates on the seventh day the item is overdue. If the item is not renewed, it will be billed to the user account as lost on the 30th day it is overdue.
Notices are sent out as a courtesy to all borrowers, but borrowers are liable for fines and fees whether or not an overdue notice has been received. If you are not receiving  notices, please contact the Circulation Desk or the Library Privileges Office to verify your e-mail or mailing address.

Patrons can check due dates on all items checked out to them, as well as renew them, by logging into “My Account” on NUsearch.

Daily Fines

NU Main Library does not charge daily overdue fines for most circulating items with the exception of overdue recalled items and short term loan items, including:

  • Items which have been recalled: $1.00 per day
  • Items from the Multimedia Center: $1.00 per day
  • Items on Reserve for a class:
    • 2-hour items:     $1.00 per hour
    • 4-hour items:     $1.00 per hour
    • 1-day items:      $5.00 per day

Overdue fines will apply at all times, including over holidays, vacations, and intersessions. Patrons are responsible for keeping track of their due dates, which can easily be accomplished by logging into “My Account” on NUsearch.

Lost Status Items

Books that are not returned or renewed within 29 days after their due date are automatically marked with a “lost” status. A replacement fee and a non-refundable $10.00 processing fee will be assessed for every book overdue by more than 29 days. If the items are returned within a reasonable timeframe, the replacement fee will be waived.

Items from the Multimedia Center are considered "lost" after 10 days, and items from Core and Reserve are considered "lost" after 7 days.

Replacement fees are a minimum of $125.00 per item from most collections.

Damaged Items

Library staff make an effort to note damage before an item is allowed to circulate. Damage can be classified as accidental or intentional. Patrons who return items damaged by intentional misuse (including highlighting, underlining in pencil or ink, or use of adhesive notes) may be assessed fees on those items according to the severity of the damage. The patron is also responsible for any accidental damage (liquid, animal damage, etc.) that is determined to have occurred while the item was in their care. Damage, whether accidental or intentional, shortens the life of the book; in some cases the damage is so severe that the item must be replaced.

If an item is returned damaged, the following fines and fees will apply:

  • Mild Damage: A $5.00 fee will be assessed for minor pencil marks, dog eared pages and post-it notes.
  • Moderate Damage: A $10.00 fee will be assessed for marking in pen or highlighter.
  • Minor Water Damage: If water damage is confined to the cover and only the edges of the text block or the fly leaves, the item will be sent to the bindery. A $20 fee will be assessed ($10 for binding or repair and $10 for processing).
  • Severe Damage: A replacement fee of $50.00 plus a $10 processing fee will be assessed for damage that renders the book unusable. This includes torn or missing pages, excessive water damage, active mold or mildew, and excessive marks made by pencil, pen or highlighter.

Blocked Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing privileges are automatically blocked on accounts which:

  • have accrued fines of $100* or more;
  • have Overdue Recalled items; or
  • have very delinquent Interlibrary Loan items.  

Patrons with blocked accounts are unable to check out or renew books. A blocked patron should be able to access information about why her or his account is blocked by logging in to logging into “My Account” on NUsearch. Patrons unable to log in to "My Account" should contact the Circulation Desk.


Fines and fees are payable by cash, check, money order, or credit card at the Main Circulation Desk whenever the cash register is open. Credit card payments are accepted over the phone at 847-491-7633.

Payments may also be made by mailing a check (payable to NU Library) to:

Northwestern University Library
Circulation Services
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL 60208

Please call to verify the amount owed before sending any payment by mail