ANYONE with overdue library books on their shelves or bedside table can relax – fines have been abolished since the start of the month.
Since January 1st, library members do not have to pay fines for overdue items and better again, no existing fines will be collected.
Any library user who has overdue items can return them now, confident that there will be no fines to pay, and their memberships can be reactivated on the spot so they can begin using their local library immediately.
The removal of fines for library users is one of the actions included in the national strategy, Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities.
This strategy, launched in June 2018, aims to improve access to and increase use of the library as a community hub.
The five-year strategy is a joint initiative of the Department of Rural and Community Development, the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA).
Acting county librarian Bernie Wallace told The Southern Star: ‘Libraries are an invaluable resource for all in the community and we want to remove any barriers that might prevent people making full use of them.
‘That is why we are eliminating fines and other charges. Libraries are welcoming spaces where all members of the community can access knowledge, ideas and information, and where people can reflect, connect and learn,’ she added.
Bernie also said that research has shown that people view fines as a barrier to membership and usage of libraries. In addition, fines disproportionately affect those on lower incomes and can create a negative association with library use for children. ‘There is evidence that library services which have removed fines see an increase in usage following their removal and we very much hope that will be reflected now in our library services,’ she said.
However, no fines does not mean no responsibility. Members will continue to receive reminders and overdue emails to prompt them to return items to the library and are asked to please return items on or before their due date to allow others to borrow them. If a member does not either return an item, or contact a library staff member to discuss an overdue item, before they receive a third reminder, their card will be blocked from taking out or renewing any further items. Borrowing privileges cannot be restored until either the overdue item is returned, or the member has made contact with a library staff member to discuss the matter.
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