Aucklanders who have not been to an Auckland Council Library for some time are being welcomed back with a three-month long amnesty which started on 1 July 2022.
The amnesty follows on from overdue fines being abolished on 1 September 2021 and will see any lost book charges on people’s accounts removed so they can return to using library services.
“This is about getting rid of any barriers to our library services for anyone living in Tāmaki Makaurau,” says Councillor Cathy Casey, deputy chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events
Catherine Leonard, Auckland Council’s Head of Library Services.agrees, noting that charges on people’s accounts related to lost or damaged books have stopped people using libraries.
“There can often be a sense of whakama (shame) due to that old debt. People stop visiting because they are worried about conversations about charges and lost or damaged books”
Catherine says that the amnesty is about encouraging people to come back to libraries and enjoy the many benefits of being an active library member.
The amnesty on returning long lost books and on wiping of charges is easy. The only requirement is a chat with a librarian. For those who might feel embarrassed about having that conversation in person an email or a phone call will work too.
“Our librarians are ready to help and want any Aucklanders who have been avoiding us, to return and use our many and varied library services.
“If you have the book, even if it is damaged, bring it in, otherwise just let one of our librarians know and we can clear the slate. It will only take a couple of minutes.”
Despite the removal of overdue fines last year, charges for lost or damaged books remained. This resulted in around 15,000 people being blocked from accessing library services, with Māori and Pasifika library users disproportionality represented in that group.
“Auckland Council Libraries are for everyone,” says Councillor Casey.
“But we know that for some, there is a reluctance to return to libraries due to the burden and shame of old charges and fear of new ones.
“We’re doing all we can to make it easy to help people reconnect with us and know that libraries are friendly, welcoming place for all Aucklanders.
With it currently being the season of Matariki, now is a great time for a fresh start.”