Porirua libraries are scrapping overdue fines in a move to remove barriers and make libraries more welcoming and accessible for all.
At a meeting of its Te Puna Kōrero committee late last week, Porirua City Council voted unanimously to remove overdue fines from 1 July. Existing fines will also be waived at this point.
Porirua Mayor, Anita Baker said libraries played an important role in the community and she wouldn’t want financial barriers meaning some people missed out.
“Our fines have always been small, but research shows that even small fines can stop people from coming back,” Mayor Baker said.
“We’ve also seen that some parents don’t want their children to have library cards as they’re worried they may get late fees that they won’t be able to afford to pay.
“So instead of fines being an incentive to return books on time, they end up being a disincentive to using libraries at all – and we really want to avoid people missing out on valuable library resources.”
Items will still need to be returned, and cards will be blocked if books are overdue for lengthy periods, she said. Cards will be unblocked if the item is return or the replacement cost paid.
Library usage has dropped 20% in the past two years of COVID-19 disruptions, so now was a time to rebuild, and removing fines would help, said Brian Anderson, Manager City Libraries.
“The removal of overdue fines will have a positive impact on customer relations, for a relatively small drop in revenue,” he said.
From 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, the expected revenue from overdue fines was $20,000 and many fines end up never being paid, said Mayor Baker.
“Our libraries are a place to learn, to gather and to feel part of a community – and we want them to be available to everyone. Books can change lives, so I’m happy we’re making it easier for residents of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy them,” she said.