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Removal of Fines

Posted Date: 15 January 2019

Removal of Fines
National Public Library Policy
The public library strategy Our Public Libraries 2022 was published in July 2018 by the Department of Rural and Community Development, the City and County Management Association and the Local Government Management Agency This national strategy identifies the importance of maximising access to the public library service, stating that the library is a free lifelong resource that should be available to all without barriers or charges.

Our Public Libraries 2022 sets out the action:
Remove fines and book charges for library users while exploring non-monetary options for ensuring the timely return and preservation of book stock.
In developing the national strategy, the impact of fines and the impact of removal of fines was researched. A number of considerations were identified as follows, which formed the basis for the action:
1. Research has shown that people view fines as a barrier to membership and usage of libraries.
2. Fines disproportionately affect people on lower incomes.
3. They can also have greater impacts on families and children and can create a negative association with library use for children.
4. The collection of fines was introduced as a deterrent to late return of books rather than an income stream, but there is very little evidence to show that fines ensure more timely returns. In fact, they may actually put people off returning longer overdue items.
5. There is evidence from library services which have removed fines showing increases in usage - both borrowing and returning - following the removal of fines.
6. The costs involved in the collection of fines is significant. Libraries can be making far greater use of staff time and financial resources.

Implementation of the national action
The Libraries Development Committee of the Local Government Management Agency is the governance committee for the implementation of the public library strategy and has identified the removal of fines as one of the first priority actions for implementation. A task and finish working group of City and County Librarians and the LGMA, has been set up under the Libraries Development Committee to progress the implementation of this action. A timeline has been recommended to the Libraries Development Committee by the working group and approved as follows:
• From the 1st of January 2019 fines will no longer be collected.
• 1st January – 31st March 2019:
o Fines already incurred on Sierra will be purged centrally by the LMS Team. A first purging of all existing fines will take place on 2nd January. Fines subsequently incurred on patron accounts will then be purged centrally by the LMS Team on a daily basis throughout January.
o Development and testing of technical solution for removal of fines carried out by DCPL
• January 2018: Promotional plan to raise public awareness developed and commenced.
• 1st January – 31st March 2019: national and local promotion and encouragement for the return of all overdue items.
• 31st January – Review fines clearing process.
Removal of Fines: What this will mean for Library Members
• Members will no longer have to pay fines from 1st January 2019.
• Loan periods will remain the same and the same reminder notices will still be sent to users.
• On receiving a third reminder notice, which will be sent nine weeks from the date of the item becoming overdue, all library membership card holders (children and adults) will have their borrowing privileges temporarily suspended until items are returned / or in the case of children’s items, the loss is declared to the library. All suspensions are lifted once the overdue items are returned or any replacement charges paid.

• Replacement charges will not apply to children’s items.
Children up to the age of 18 will not be charged for replacement of lost or damaged items.
• Adults over 18 will be charged for lost or damaged adult items.
Charges for lost or damaged items will be charged at the purchase price of the item as recorded in the catalogue record.
• Replacement charges can be paid at any library branch, regardless of where the item originated from. • We are promoting and encouraging members of the public to return undamaged, overdue library items to their local libraries particularly in the period 1st January -31st March 2019. There will be no fines to pay and memberships can be reactivated on the spot for users to begin using their local library again.

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