The library announced this week it was ending the charges incurred on overdue items, as well as waiving all outstanding charges, resulting in numerous people coming forward with books they have had out for several years.
Fines of up to £1.80 at 10p per day for up to three weeks, excluding Sundays, were charged for each unreturned item, but now following the lead of a number of libraries across the world, including some in the UK and Australia, as well as the whole of the Republic of Ireland, this has been abolished.
Guille-Alles head of marketing Adam Bayfield said evidence of ending the fines at other libraries had shown that people were encouraged to visit again and take items out.
‘Since we announced this there have been people who have come in to return books that they’ve had for five or six years,’ he said.
‘It’s brilliant to see that people have heard that we’ve done this and come back with the overdue item because it means that they can start to re-use the library services again.
‘I imagine people who have needed to return items have been fretful about doing so as they think they will have huge bills and this has put them off.
‘Taking this step reassures them they can come back without being penalised.’
The library will still send out renewal reminders. If an extended amount of time passes that person’s library card can be suspended until the item is brought back.
The move comes as part of the library’s efforts to evolve by removing barriers and making it easier for people to use the service.
‘We have late night openings and events such as poetry readings and writers drop-ins, as well as those things that we are focusing on to do with the digital side of things and outreach,’ Mr Bayfield added.
‘It also removes the admin work involved in collecting fines, freeing us up to keep improving the service, which in the last few years has seen a significant increase in usage. We want to ensure it remains a community resource and gathering place for people.’
In 2019, visits to the library increased by more than 8% to well over 160,000, with new members up 13%, and loans rising almost 20%.