Reading Libraries to abolish fines and fees
- Proposal to remove overdue fines and reservation fees
- Aim to remove any potential barriers to library use and encourage more residents to use Reading’s libraries
READING LIBRARY SERVICE has announced plans to withdraw all library fines for overdue books alongside other fees, to help encourage greater library use.
Reading will be one of only a handful of local authorities in the South East to formally remove book reservation fees and overdue fines.
The library service originally suspended fines in the spring of 2020 during the pandemic. Although in person library services are now back to normal the fine suspension has been retained to encourage use and support people returning to the library. The absence of income from fines, which is relatively modest, will be covered by increased income elsewhere in the service. Libraries will continue to levy a modest charge for printing documents, with prices starting at 15p a page.
The move is part of Reading Council’s continued response to the cost of living crisis.
Adele Barnett-Ward, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Leisure and Culture, said:
“The cost of living crisis is hitting us all and people across Reading are looking for ways to save money. Reading’s library service is a fantastic source of free books, ebooks, emagazines and audiobooks but we know that fear of incurring fines or unexpected costs puts some residents off using their local library.
“By removing fines we are sending a clear message that we want everyone to feel confident using their library, whether they are borrowing a book, joining in one of our social or activity sessions, or just want somewhere to sit and relax without having to spend money.
“Over the last year, our libraries have seen around 200,000 visitors across the network, with 400,000 books and eBooks issued and around 2,000 home visits to people who are unable to leave their homes. These are great results, but we are striving to build on these numbers, particularly in our quieter libraries. Removing the reservation fee will mean library users can read any book held by the service without having to worry about whether it is available on the shelves of their local library.
“Cuts to Local Authority funding have resulted in the closure of a fifth of the nation’s libraries since 2010 but in Reading we successfully fought to keep all our libraries open because we value the vital role they play in improving health outcomes, improving quality of life, and supporting improved education, wellbeing and skills. I want to encourage everyone to visit their local library and see what’s on offer, or to check out our online offering at www.reading.gov.uk/elibrary for a huge range of free eBooks, eMagazine, eAudio. Our libraries belong to all of us and they are more important now than ever.”
The full report will be considered at Reading Council’s Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday 21 September. View the report here: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s23396/Withdrawal%20of%20Library%20Fines.pdf
Notes to editors
Recent national research by Libraries Connected during 2021/22 on library fines looked at services that had gone fine free and concluded overall removing fines translated to increased membership and loans: www.librariesconnected.org.uk/news/library-fine-survey-results-and-summary-report-revealed