23 September 2020

Goulburn Mulwaree Library scraps overdue book fees and existing fines

| Hannah Sparks
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A quiet corner at Goulburn Mulwaree Library. Photo: Goulburn Mulwaree Council

Goulburn Mulwaree Library will no longer charge fines for overdue books or DVDs after research found they weren’t successful.

The library removed its late fees and waived any existing fines on 1 September, although fees will still apply for lost or damaged items.

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Global research reveals that late fines don’t encourage people to return items to the library on time. In fact, the research showed late fines deterred people from returning their overdue items because of the stigma.

NSW libraries that trialled the removal of late fines found a reduction of up to 30 per cent in overall overdue items.

Those libraries also found that overall borrowing increased, especially in the key vulnerable areas of children’s and adult’s literacy materials.

Additionally, any revenue generated from late fines was offset by time incurred by staff in administering them, said Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

Overdue fines at Goulburn Mulwaree Library were 15 cents per day up to a maximum of $5.

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“We want everyone to feel confident to come to the library and make use of the resources here without worrying that life will get busy and they’ll end up needing to pay late fines,” said library manager Erin Williams.

“If you have a library book at home that you haven’t returned because of late fines, please drop it in the returns chute and start borrowing again, even if it is years overdue.

“We hope that anyone who hasn’t been into the library for a while because of late fines will come back, and those who haven’t joined yet will come in to enjoy what we have on offer.”

Upper Lachlan Shire Council will consider waiving late fees at Crookwell and Gunning Libraries at its October meeting.

“The late fines are an immaterial amount for Upper Lachlan Shire Council and the fines system creates an administrative burden for the council,” a council spokesperson said.

Library materials include books, DVDs, music CDs, video games, ebooks, audiobooks, online video streaming and language learning.

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Great this is long overdue. But they need to improve their service. They also need to stop accusing people of damaging books when it is obvious they have had something to do with the damage.

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