Ashburton Public Library clears of fines

Ashburton Public Library hopes to see more users now that it has waived late book fines.

The library removed fines for late books borrowed from the children’s library in 2019 and this month it removed late fines for the adult library.

The director of the council’s Community Services group, Steve Fabish, said overdue fines had fallen in recent years as more borrowers took advantage of online services.

“The board was happy to drop the overdue fines as members can easily renew a book online now anyway to avoid fines.

“But it’s more about removing barriers for some users. Nervousness about incurring fines has kept some people away, especially when they are busy and the cost of living is rising, as it is now.

The decision to remove outstanding fines was taken by Council as part of the establishment of the annual plan for 2022-2023. It brings Ashburton Public Library into line with many other libraries in New Zealand and around the world, which have become fine-free.

“Library fines particularly affect those who cannot afford to pay, and then these people stop using the library. We hope that by removing the fines, we are removing a barrier to using our libraries,” Fabish said.

“We look forward to welcoming back anyone who has stopped using the library for fear of racking up fines.”

He said the revenue from fines was not significant.

“When you apply it to the total library budget and the investment the board is making, it’s really a small amount of money, and staff no longer have to have those negative and often time-consuming conversations with members.”

Borrowers who do not return overdue books will receive a lost item account. If the books are not returned, the Council will seek to collect the amount due.

“Borrowers will receive email reminders well before this happens and should renew their books when prompted by email.”

The library asks members to ensure that their email addresses are up to date and to notify them of any changes.

Details can be updated by emailing [email protected], with name(s), borrower number(s) and email.
Others that have also removed overdue fines include Auckland Libraries, Central Hawkes Bay District Libraries, Rangitikei District Council Libraries, Masterton District Library, Upper Hutt Libraries, Selwyn District Libraries, Nelson Public Libraries, Waimakariri Libraries, Timaru District Libraries and Ōpotiki Libraries.

Ashburton Library’s new policy came into effect July 1, so fines unpaid before that date will remain in borrowers’ accounts and must be paid.

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