Hal­ton scraps li­brary fines

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page -

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.

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