DCC may turn the page on library fines

Dunedin's tardy library users may soon be feeling fine if a plan to abolish fees for overdue items checks out.

A Dunedin City Council meeting this Wednesday will consider a proposal to abolish late fees at the city’s public libraries.

A report by library services manager Bernie Hawke will be tabled at the meeting, and has recommended the removal of all charges for overdue library items.

It also calls for any outstanding overdue fees on the accounts of library patrons to be wiped.

The report says there is no evidence that overdue charges are an effective incentive for borrowers to return their books on time.

Instead, it is the experience of libraries both in New Zealand and abroad that late charges act as a deterrent and barrier to borrowing books, and disproportionately affect those on lower and fixed incomes, it says.

At present, late items attract a 50c fine per day overdue, and ‘‘hot pick’’ items cost $1 per day overdue.

If a library user’s total fines exceed $15, the patron is barred from borrowing books until their balance is paid.

During the 2020-21 financial year the library levied $101,740 in fines, of which $78,586 was received in payment, revenue that would be lost in future should fines be removed.

The proposal to wipe historical debt would exclude those that had already been forwarded to debt collection agencies.

Dunedin Public Libraries already removed late fees for library users aged under 18 in July last year, and there has been an increase in youth borrowing since then.

Public Libraries New Zealand is leading a campaign for all of the country’s libraries to remove late charges by 2025.



Is there a figure for the estimated cost of items that will be lost in these calculations?



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