Last year Auckland Council Libraries issued over 13.5 million items, hosted 5.1 million internet sessions, enabled 10.8 million online transactions and welcomed over 8.5 million visitors across Tāmaki Makaurau’s 56 library centres.
Our libraries provide valuable kaupapa for local communities through services that enable access to information and life-long learning, digital literacy support and reading for pleasure, homework, job-seeking support, and connections within local communities.
The council is joining the global trend of removing library overdue fines with almost 600 libraries worldwide now fine free, including every public library in Ireland.
“We’ve been researching and building the case for the removal of library fines and although fines were introduced to encourage returning of borrowed items, they have evolved to become barriers to equitable access to information and lifelong learning. Libraries who have removed the fines have experienced greater rate of return of items borrowed and membership growth,” says Councillor Cathy Casey.
“At any one time we have less than 10 per cent of items issued overdue and the small amount of fines cause a lot of administrative work for council employees to manage.
“More importantly, here and around the world, library fines have become barriers to access the information and learning opportunities offered and we need to stop that," says Cr Casey.
“Approving the Council’s ten-year plan gave us the chance to make this change and help those in our communities who need us most.”
Currently over 32,000 Aucklanders are blocked from access to library services and council staff are concerned about how this limits their ability to provide communities with access to reading that builds literacy, creates positive learning experiences and helps people flourish in the community.
“Aucklanders have told us fines were a barrier to using their local library. Looking offshore we’ve also learnt that those libraries that removed fines and implemented amnesties saw high numbers of people returning, so we’re considering the best option for a return amnesty to encourage more reading for people who have stopped using our services” says Mirla Edmundson, General Manager Connected Communities.
When a customer has more than $10 owing, they are currently blocked from borrowing more items.
“What we and other councils have observed is that overdue fines have not ensured books are returned and that where fines were stopped return rates increased and so did the number of people borrowing items. The amnesty will mean everyone can return to use our library services without having to worry that they owe something, or are blocked from borrowing," says Mirla.
“Overdue fines are driving people who need libraries away and the removal of library fines is the right thing to do.
“We hope this will give all our customers an opportunity to come back to their local library and see what's new, and make the most of the services, resources, and programs we offer,” she says.
Library fine changes
The change will come into effect on 1 September when technical changes to systems have been implemented.
Here’s how it’s going to work:
- Overdue fines incurred between now and 1 September are still payable
- Charges will continue for lost and damaged items. If lost items are not returned, and those charges are not paid customers will be blocked from borrowing
- Other charges for services and activities continue, including fees for borrowing CDs and DVDs, printing and heritage photograph orders.
For more information on Auckland Council Library Services please visit our website aucklandlibraries.govt.nz