Our District Libraries are removing overdue fines to increase access

Published on 28 June 2023


Our Council’s three District libraries are removing fines for overdue books to improve access for everyone in our community.

From 1 July, overdue fines will be removed at Thames, Mercury Bay, and Tairua Libraries. There will still be a replacement cost for lost or damaged items, and charges for some lending items, as well as services such as printing and scanning.

So far, over half of Aotearoa’s public libraries have removed overdue fines, reporting a range of positive outcomes, including an increase in membership and use of their services.

“We are so excited about this positive change,” says our Council’s District Libraries Manager Shana Allan. ”It will mean a lot for our community and library services.”

Several years ago, our District Libraries removed overdue fines on children’s items, leading to a significant increase in memberships. “Removing overdue fines leads to increasing access for our community and will help our library teams to focus on our goals of improving literacy levels and encouraging reading for pleasure,” says Shana.

Browsing Thames Library shelves with stained glass window in the backgroundOverdue fines were intended to motivate customers to return books so other customers had access. However, evidence shows they serve as a barrier to access and many people are ashamed to bring back overdue items and pay the fine. Even without fines, people return their books to avoid being charged a replacement fee, and so that they can continue to use the library. Many libraries around the world are reporting that the same number of items, or even more, are being returned on time since going fine free.

Those who may struggle with fines are often busy families and young people. The change means librarians can focus on creating positive experiences for library users, and helping people engage with their local library.

A recent community survey showed that our District Libraries were valued for providing access to books and other material such as DVDs and magazines, while also being seen as important and responsive community hubs. People were grateful they could access printing and computers, or take part in craft groups, school holiday programmes and film screenings. Survey respondents described library staff as helpful, supportive and passionate.

This positive feedback showed the many ways libraries supported communities’ wellbeing, and the importance of services being available to all.  

It’s free for everyone to join our district libraries. Check out our website to find out how to join and more about what we offer. Click here to find out more about our District Libraries, including locations, opening hours, events and available services.

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