Horowhenua libraries to remove overdue fines
Published on June 28, 2022
We’re starting a new chapter by making Horowhenua libraries free from overdue fines. On Friday 1 July existing fines will be wiped and no further overdue fines will be applied.
Our libraries provide important kaupapa for our community and house a range of digital and print resources, encouraging reading for pleasure, life-long learning and literacy. They provide job-seeking and digital support, positive learning opportunities and social connection within Horowhenua.
We want our libraries to be inviting to everyone, allowing equal access to the information and inspiration found within the walls and resources, however fines can deter people from enjoying the services our community centres provide.
Research shows people shy away from libraries to avoid paying overdue fines, even if the book is only a few days late. Fines are not a significant part of library funding but create administrative costs to follow up.
We have 16,932 library members in Horowhenua, and 1,622 are blocked from using their library cards due to fines. On average we collect $8,500 in overdue fines each year. Removing late fines will create a clean slate, allowing customers to issue books and resources again, and frees up staff time which would otherwise be spent following up fines.
Borrowers will continue to receive reminders about due dates, and we encourage customers to return items on time for the next person. There will still be charges to replace lost or damaged books if the item is overdue for more than 28 days. Instead of fines for overdue items, blocks can be added to library user’s cards limiting the number of items they can borrow if they do not return items.
Mayor Bernie Wanden says “Fines were used to encourage people to bring their books back in time, but what they have done is prevent people from using the facilities. We want to remove any barriers that are stopping people from using our community centres and the excellent resources they have. Anything we can do to better connect people with literacy is something to be encouraged. Our community centres are for everyone.”
We are joining a large number of libraries in Aotearoa who are choosing to be fine free. Across the globe, libraries have experienced increased borrowing, visitors, membership growth and books returned after becoming fine free.
Library Services Manager Wendy Fraser says “We are beyond excited to be fine free. We spend a lot of time talking to people about overdue books and fines, when what we really want is to be sparking a lifelong love of learning. New Zealand literacy rates are at an all-time low and we want new and returning customers to come back to us and make the most of the services, resources, and programmes we offer to support reading, literacy and connection in Horowhenua.”