Library fines on the way out in Christchurch?

Fines for overdue library books could be on the way out in Christchurch.

A growing number of towns and cities across New Zealand are removing overdue fines due to concerns they put people off using library services.

At least 12 councils, including the Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils, no longer charge for overdue library items.

Selwyn abolished its library fines last year, and said it has since experienced an increase in borrowing, library visitors and new members.

But Christchurch city library fines are still charged for all items not returned by the due date.

The fine is set at 70 cents a day, up to a maximum of $21. Once people amass $30 or more in unpaid fines and charges, or owe fines for more than 21 days, they cannot borrow library items, place holds or use the e-resources.

On Thursday, Christchurch City Council's finance and performance committee accepted a 'Notice of Motion' from councillors Sara Templeton and Mike Davidson that seeks to change the fines' system.

They want council staff to look into abolishing charges for overdue library items and all historic debts related to overdue charges.

Tūranga. Photo: Newsline
Tūranga. Photo: Newsline

"The committee is keen to find out more about the implications of removing overdue fines before it makes a decision on whether that is the right course of action," said committee chairman and Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner.

"Looking at the experience of those towns and cities that have taken the step to remove overdue fines, there is evidence to suggest that it does lead to an increase in the number of new library members and increases in the number of items issued and returned.

"We are keen support literacy and to ensure that everyone in our communities can access our libraries and the learning opportunities they offer, so this is certainly an option worth exploring.

"However, we need to fully understand the financial implications before we make a decision," Turner said.

 

 

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