Library fines scrapped and debts cleared in Barnsley

Library book fines have been consigned to history in Barnsley as the council seeks to remove barriers which could discourage residents from taking advantage of the service.

By Paul Whitehouse
Thursday, 30 May, 2019, 10:43
Fine outlook: No charge for overdue books at branches including Barnsley's new Lightbox library

From July 1 no further fines will be issued for books which are overdue and outstanding fines will also be removed, in a change which also ends the use of reservation fees for those requesting books not in stock at their local branch.

The change means fines will never be issued against users of the new flagship Lightbox central library, due to open in May Day Green this summer.

Councillors hope that removing fines will take away a stigma which could discourage parents from taking their children into libraries, if they have had bad experiences with being fined in the past.

Although the maximum fine at present is  just over £5, the council said that was a sum which could be significant for those on low incomes – an element of society which could benefit from using libraries, which now have public access computers as well as traditional book services.

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Numbers of people loaning books has been in decline in recent years, with the income from fines also falling as a result.

It is believed that finding the money previously generated by fines from elsewhere in the libraries budget will be outweighed by the positive impact on customers using the branches.

The change was agreed by the council’s ruling Cabinet and a follow up will be prepared in a year’s time to assess the impact of the change.