Portsmouth libraries remain free of fines and fees for another year

KEEN readers can continue to reserve books for free and without fear of overdue fines from Portsmouth libraries as the pilot system was praised as working 'better than expected.'

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 11:58 am
Libraries will remain free of fines in Portsmouth

Council bosses have agreed to continue the no-fees, no-fines library trial scheme for another year, after it was first set up in 2018.

Since then book reservations have grown by 54 per cent and book returns have risen 12 per cent.

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Speaking at a culture and city development meeting, libraries development manager Clare Forsyth said: ‘There’s been some really positive feedback about the removal of the reservation fees and fines.

‘People have been coming back to the library for the first time in ages with the removal of fines because people were worried about paying those fines.

‘More books have now been returned – an increase of 12 per cent. We would like very much to continue with this.

‘It’s really interesting to hear there seems to be a growing movement nationally to remove library fines.’

When the scheme was initially launched there had been concerns it would lead to more book losses.

Culture chief Councillor Steve Pitt said: ‘I am very supportive of this.

‘We were worried at the time it started it would cause us to lose more books but actually it’s been the opposite.

‘I’ve heard stories of people coming back who had been holding on to books for years.’

Former culture lead, Cllr Linda Symes, agreed. ‘I think it’s a great thing,’ she said.

‘We were full of trepidation when we first started this. It’s been better than expected.’

It comes after Hampshire County Council announced it could be closing 10 libraries.

Cllr Claire Udy added: ‘I hope Hampshire County Council are watching this.’

Before the scheme the total income from library fines and reservation fees in Portsmouth was £20,000 a year.

It is thought around £5,000 has now been saved due to more books being returned, meaning fewer replacements are needed. Parking permits sold in libraries also adds about £8,000 a year.