Halton scraps library fines
LIBRARY fines have been scrapped in Halton in a radical trial aimed at making books more accessible
Halton Borough Council said that library usage has already increased in recent years in the area and it is hoped that removing financial penalties for late returns will boost it further.
The trial will run for 12 months and could be made permanent if it proves a success.
It follows similar schemes in other areas.
Trafford in Greater Manchester became the first council area to embrace the policy in February last year.
Since then others including Portsmouth have followed suit.
A Halton Council spokesman said the move is part of its goal to provide ‘the opportunity for all to fulfil their potential’.
He said fines can be offputting and that the ● Cllr Phil Harris library service wants to offer a welcoming service for all.
The council said more than 50% of borrowers in Halton are classed as living in the top 20% most deprived areas nationally, with 30% living in areas classed in the top 10%.
At present, children do not pay fines in Halton, but it has been expanded to include all library users for the forthcoming year.
Library users will still be expected to return overdue books before being able to take out any more.
Cllr Phil Harris (libraries) said: “This is a great move forward for our innovative library service and hopefully former library users who haven’t visited their library in a long time because of the fear of fines will make 2019 the year that they return.
“A small number of other council run libraries have taken this move in the last 12 months and have reported no decrease in book returns and in fact an increase in general usage.
“We want to inspire a community of readers and offer a welcoming environment in our libraries.”
The council spokesman said the initiative was the latest innovation for the service such as expanding its online resources to include free ebooks and audiobooks, free magazines and newspapers, activities such as code clubs, Saturday stories, ‘chatterbooks’ groups and an expanded outreach home library service.