Shropshire Star

No more library fines if council agrees new plan

Bookworms in Powys will no longer be fined for returning overdue books.

Newtown Library

The council hopes the move will see more people use their local library, and there are 18 of them in Powys.

Next month a delegated decision is expected to come into force which confirms the permanent removal of fines.

On Wednesday, August 31, a delegated decision will be taken by the council’s cabinet member for a prosperous Powys, Councillor David Selby which will take away the financial punishment.

But customers could still be liable to pay for replacement books.

A report by senior librarian Susan Summers explains the proposal.

Ms Summers said: “Loans to children are already fine-free, so the proposed change will remove fines for adult books.

“The library service suspended all fines in March 2022 as part of its Covid-19 response, and the service seeks approval to remove fines permanently.

“Traditionally fines were applied as a contribution to the costs of sending printed overdue reminders to customers.

“However, the Library Service no longer sends printed overdues because of the costs were prohibitive.”

Ms Summers said that the customers sign up for email or texts that send alerts three days before items are due back.

Loan renewals can also be done online, and this can be done up to six times.

Ms Summers said: “The practical effect is that people are fined for not renewing, rather than not returning loans.

“The library service suspended fines at the start of the first lockdown, and this is ongoing.

“We also removed any unpaid fines incurred before this date – this allowed us to send a strong message to customers that there would not be any fines to pay for overdue items.

“This has been well received by customers although library use has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Removing fines permanently will help us rebuild the audience and encourage lapsed users to return to the library post pandemic.”

Ms Summers added that five of Wales’ 22 local authorities already have fine free libraries and another five were considering adopting the policy.

The decision is subject to a possible “call in” for scrutiny by councillors and will not come into force for “five clear days” following the decision.

This would mean that the decision comes into effect by Thursday, September 8.

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