Liverpool

Library fines scrapped in Halton in bid to boost users

Library books Image copyright ilbusca
Image caption Library users told they will no longer be fined for returning books after they are due back

Library users in part of the Liverpool City Region will no longer be fined for late returns.

Halton Borough Council is scrapping the charges in a bid to encourage more people to use its four libraries in Runcorn and Widnes.

The authority said it also hoped the move would prompt people to return any library books that are overdue.

The fines are being removed for a trial period of a year before a permanent decision is made.

Helen Osborne, from Halton Library Service, said fines can deter some people from borrowing books.

"We hope we will see people returning books even if they are slightly late but returning them, knowing that they're not going to get shouted at and they can carry on taking more books out."

Abolished

Halton is not the only local authority to do away with library fines.

Trafford Borough Council was the first authority in the UK to scrap charges for late returns in April 2018.

Since then, the authority said 7,000 additional items have been borrowed and there has been a 4% rise in people joining compared to the previous year.

Welcoming the move, the UK Library Association said there was little evidence of borrowers taking advantage after fines have been abolished.

Nick Poole of the Library and Information Association, said: "Initial evidence suggests that people tend not to abuse the system and it is a good way of ensuring that there is no barrier for people to making use of their library service.

"Our only concern is that in an age of spending cuts, some libraries do depend on the small revenue that comes from fines.

"Any decision to withdraw fines should be made in consultation with library staff to ensure that this loss of revenue is compensated elsewhere."

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