The Barrington Area Library is pleased to announce that it will no longer charge overdue fines.

Why? We want to eliminate as many barriers to library service as possible, and, we’d rather focus our time, energy, and resources on building positive relationships with you, our valued customers!

What does this mean for customers?

Most items check out for four weeks. See a detailed list of loan periods.

A reminder is sent before items are due. Weekly reminders are sent once items are overdue.

Customers may log into their accounts to renew items for up to two additional loan periods, provided they are not on hold for other customers. Auto-renewal is not available at this time.

At four weeks overdue, a bill for replacement is sent, and the customer’s library account is paused. Paused accounts may not be used to borrow physical materials. To reactivate an account, items more than four weeks overdue must be returned or renewed, or, the replacement cost must be paid.

Our Customer Service team has been systematically removing old overdue fines from accounts as well. Fees will still apply in certain circumstances: MakerLab materials, Meeting Room coffee service, Non-Resident Library Cards, Interlibrary Loan items that are not picked up.

How and why did the Library make this decision?

Every community is unique, and every public library must balance the unique wants, needs, and characteristics of the community it serves with the need for due diligence and fiscal responsibility. In order to make a well-informed decision regarding the elimination of overdue fines, BALibrary staff spent more than a year researching the borrowing process. What that process revealed: Barrington Area Library customers are conscientious stewards of library materials! On average, at any given time, only about .6% of the Library’s collection is overdue. Only about .2% of the collection is ever more than 21 days overdue. The Library believes that strong sense of responsibility to the larger community will remain, even without overdue fines.

Also discovered in the research process: overdue fines disproportionately affect children, which goes against the Library’s mission goal of creating young readers. When barriers are removed and opportunities are increased, everyone benefits.

Eliminating overdue fines will also improve efficiency and the Library’s bottom line. In years past, one out of every five Customer Service transactions related to fine payment. Fines collection costs the Library more than $22,000 a year in staff time and vendor costs. Those human and financial resources can now be used for initiatives that foster positive community relationships.

When the Library temporarily closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, plans were already underway to eliminate overdue fines. During the closure, the Library extended due dates so overdue fines would not accrue, even after the Library reopened in July. Customer Service staff also worked behind the scenes to waive all previous outstanding overdue fines from customer accounts. The Library Board of Trustees approved the final policy change to eliminate overdue fines at its regular meeting on Monday, September 14, 2020.

What happens if I have lost an item?

A bill for lost items is sent at four weeks overdue. Customers may simply return the items and the bill will be cancelled. If the item is lost, damaged, or unable to be returned, customers may pay the bill online or in person at the Customer Service desk. Under this new policy, customers are charged a discounted library rate equivalent to the replacement cost, with a small processing fee. If a customer finds an item after paying the bill, a refund may be processed up to 90 days after the item was declared lost.

At its regular meeting on Monday, September 14, the Barrington Area Library Board of Trustees offered its gratitude to Carolyn Welch Clifford, who is retiring from the Board after more than 19 years, including more than 9 years as Board Vice President.

The Board presented a resolution of appreciation to Clifford, acknowledging her contribution as a "passionate advocate for the Library, its programs, services, and staff." Clifford has volunteered countless hours of her time on behalf of the Library’s patrons, provided wise counsel to Library leaders and Board of Trustees, and championed the Library’s objectives to stimulate imagination, develop information fluency, foster lifelong learning, and create young readers. She also served on the Board during a major Library facility redesign and revitalization project in 2013 and 2014. After being honored with the resolution, Clifford was also made a Permanent Cardholder of the District.

On behalf of the Barrington Area Library community, we offer our admiration and appreciation to Carolyn Welch Clifford for her leadership, commitment, and years of service to the District. 

It's been our pleasure to begin rolling out in-person services to you, our community, over the past few weeks.

The Library building remains closed to the public until further notice. Our goal from day one has been to continue offering as many library services as possible, in the safest way possible, keeping the health of customers and employees as our highest priority. We're following a phased reopening plan, with several weeks between each phase, giving us time to obtain needed supplies and fixtures, process thousands of new books and movies that arrived over the last few months, rearrange library spaces in accordance with appropriate social distancing standards, and perfect new services.

Book returns began reopening the week of June 8, and all but three are now open and ready for your returns. (Advocate Good Shepherd, Barrington High School, and the indoor return at Willow Recreation Center remain closed.)

We remind you that there is no hurry to return items. No overdue fines will accrue, and when items are returned, they are being held in quarantine for three days, so they will remain on your library account for awhile longer.
Details about book return locations.

Parking Lot Pick-Up service began the week of June 15, and in July we are offering expanded hours. Current hours are Monday-Friday, 1 - 6 PM, and Saturday, 9 AM - 1 PM. We've already delivered more than 17,000 items to more than 1,000 customers! We will continue to offer this service for the foreseeable future, even after the Library building reopens its doors to the public.
Details about Parking Lot Pick-Up service

When will the Library building reopen?
Our phased reopening plan specifies Monday, July 27, as our official reopening date. For the first phase of reopening, expect to find:

  1. full browsing access to books and movies for adults, teens, and children - technology equipment will also be available for checkout;
  2. Parking Lot Pick-Up and indoor hold pick-up;
  3. friendly, professional assistance and expertise from our staff, keeping social distancing standards in mind;
  4. all staff and visitors wearing face coverings, in accordance with Governor Pritzker's mandate and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines;
  5. a clean and welcoming environment, sanitized to industry standards.

Full details coming soon, so watch our website, our social media channels, and our e-mail newsletters for information.


Dear Readers,

The recent killing of George Floyd, among other killings and systemic injustices experienced by black Americans and people of color, has horrified and disturbed communities across our country – including our own. In the wake of this tragedy, people across the country and in our community are speaking out, assembling, and sending the message that racism and hate are unacceptable in our institutions and communities.

As a First Amendment institution, the Barrington Area Library stands with those who choose to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech. Freedom of speech includes the right to read, view, listen to, create, and access information free from censorship and this right underpins our work as library professionals. The First Amendment also guarantees the right to assemble peaceably and petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is a necessary civic duty to exercise these rights and the Barrington Area Library is here to support all residents in that endeavor.

As an institution dedicated to serving all members of our community, the Barrington Area Library also stands with those working to end systemic racism, inequality, and other barriers that limit opportunity and potential within our community.

Restoring our community in the face of ongoing injustice and a global pandemic is difficult work. Each of us, including the Library, has a responsibility to help build an engaged and inclusive community.

Whether you choose to learn more about the history of racism and discrimination in our country:
• The DuSable Museum of African-American History, Chicago
• African American History Online: A Resource Guide - Library of Congress
• African American Heritage: National Archives

hear from anti-racist voices:
• Anti-Racist Reading List (BALibrary e-books)
• Social & Systemic Injustice Video Playlist - Kanopy
• New York Times Anti-Racist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi

contact your legislators:
How To Contact Your Elected Officials
How To Start a petition

document this moment in history for future generations: email our Local History Librarian Kate Mills

learn from the experiences of other people (including a program this Sunday, June 7, After The Rally: What Next?), or use our parking lot when attending the peaceful protest in Citizens Park on Saturday, June 6 – know that your Library is here to help.

Thank you for reading.
Jesse Henning
Executive Director
Barrington Area Library

During these challenging times, we're doing all we can to provide Library materials, services, and expertise to you and your household. While the Library building remains closed until further notice, we're expanding and enhancing the ways we serve you digitally and in person.

Try our new Parking Lot Pick-Up service!

Parking Lot Pick-Up is an easy, convenient, and safe way for you to borrow books and other materials from the Barrington Area Library. Here's how it works. 

  1. Search the online catalog for books and movies.

  2. Place requests on items you'd like to borrow. If you already have items on hold, those requests will be automatically changed to Parking Lot Pick-Up requests. Note that items may only be picked up at the main Library at this time. Also, Interlibrary Loan service is unavailable until further notice.

  3. Watch for an e-mail or text notification when the items are ready for pick-up. Come to the Library during Parking Lot Pick-Up hours: Monday - Friday, 1 - 6 PM, Saturday, 9 AM - 1 PM.

  4. Park in a designated pick-up spot (near the book return), call the number on the sign, and tell us the number of your parking spot.
  5. If all six spaces are full, please pull around to the front of the aisle near the Library canopy, and wait for the first available spot to open. Have your Barrington Area Library card number ready when you call. Walking or biking, or don't have a mobile phone? Come to the pick-up table outside the building and follow posted instructions.

  6. A staff member will check out your materials and deliver them to your vehicle.

  7. Enjoy your Library materials, and rest assured: our building has been disinfected to EPA standards, and our staff equipped with PPE/social distancing training and equipment. Health and safety remain our highest priorities.

Questions? E-mail or chat with our Customer Service representatives, Monday - Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM. .

June 12: You may begin to notice "overdue" items in your library account. Rest assured: no fines will accrue at this time. The drive-up book return at the main Library and eight other return locations are open again. Click this link to see which returns are open and which remain closed until further notice.

Please note: all returned items will be quarantined for seven days, due to guidelines from the Reaching Across Illinois Library System. So even after you return items, they will remain on your account for another seven to ten days.

Please do not worry about overdue fines - we've got you covered. We appreciate your patience and good will during these challenging times.

What else can the Barrington Area Library do for you?

COVID-19 local information and helpful resources - medical assistance, senior care, food pantries, help for small businesses, much more

Apply for a Barrington Area Library card online - even if you've never had a card before - or renew your card, in order to make use of these outstanding digital resources. We're expediting these processes as much as possible at this time.

Digital collections, including thousands of e-books, e-audiobooks, digital magazines and newspapers, streaming movies and TV shows. Many of these providers have expanded their offerings to give you more choices, and more checkouts per month, at this time. Get started:

Ask questions, get assistance: our Customer Service and Adult Services teams are here to help, Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 6 PM.
Use the Library’s email contact forms: or online chat via our website or social media sites
to send in your questions. Make sure you're on our e-mail newsletter list, too - that's the best way to stay informed about Library services.

Download or stream thousands of music selections, from classical to contemporary hits.

Wifi: feel free to use wifi from your car out in our lower parking lot.

Online research and learning services. Great for students participating in e-learning, great for the whole family: explore your genealogy, learn a new language or a new computer skill.
Research services:
Online courses/video tutorials:
NEW: is making its Library Edition available for free to at-home users at this time. Get started on our Genealogy page, have your BALibrary card number handy: