Islington council have scrapped fines and are declaring an amnesty on unreturned items
By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Library fines are being scrapped for bookworms who forget to return or renew items in time in a bid to help people with rising costs and encourage them to enjoy the free services on offer.
Islington council decided to drop fines for adults who are late returning items they have borrowed.
It has also launched a fines amnesty for those books or other library items languishing in people’s homes because they have forgotten about them, are embarrassed at not returning them or are fearful of the huge fine they may have accrued.
Roulin Khondoker, the councillor with responsibility for equalities, culture, inclusion said she wanted to encourage people to use libraries and “the amazing facilities we have on offer”.
Libraries are free to join and people can borrow books, music CDs and DVDs. They also get free access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, e-comics, e-magazines, online newspapers as well as computers.
Islington libraries were amongst the designated Warm Spaces across the borough this winter and are well used by people working on laptops and students studying or doing homework.
“We know how vital our libraries are – they offer free access to books, the internet, events, warm spaces and so much more.
Cllr Khondoker said: “Abolishing fines for late returns will help us make Islington a more equal borough by removing a barrier for our least well-off residents – encouraging them to make more use of the amazing facilities we have on offer. This is especially important at the moment as many people are already struggling with the cost of living.
“Free access to books can provide so much, for education and entertainment, so I am delighted that we can make our libraries more welcoming for people in Islington.”
The Labour-run council pledged to keep libraries open as it approved £10.9m savings and efficiciencies across council services this year, with a further £8m on the cards next year.
Other councils have also taken steps to cut the cost of forgetting to return items. In February the City of London held a “no questions asked” fines amnesty for borrowers to “wipe the slate clean”.