Why Portsmouth libraries will scrap fines for three years

BOOK-WORMS in Portsmouth will no longer face a fine for overdue books now that a city-wide library trial has begun.

Monday, 23rd July 2018, 6:25 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd July 2018, 6:34 pm
Southsea library

All penalty fees for the late return of books were scrapped as of June 18, along with charges for reserving items. The scheme will run for three years, with a view to make it permanent if it proves a success.

It is thought the removal of fines will encourage more residents to use the city's libraries.

Speaking after a culture, leisure and sport meeting last week, the council's culture boss, Cllr Steve Pitt, said: '˜Evidence suggests that a punitive system in libraries acts as a dissension for people to engage. Anything we can do to promote greater participation is key.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

'˜We will be monitoring the scheme to make sure it is having a positive impact and it is doing what we want it to. This is something we're very excited about.'

Library services manager, Lindy Elliott, agreed. '˜The main positive change is that we're seeing more books going out even though the scheme hasn't been going for long,' she said.

'˜Really we want people to come in and enjoy our services. It is something that has happened to an awful lot of adults '“ forgetting to bring a library book back. They think the bright lights will shine down on them if they come back.

'˜Already we have had a lot of conversations where we're able to say if we have still got the books bring them back.'

The council is confident libraries will not face a financial loss as a result of the change. Revenue from library fines in the city had declined from £28,000 a year to an anticipated £16,000 since 2011. Income from reservations dropped from £6,424 to £3,951.

£5,000 is predicted to come as a result of scrapping fines as people would be more likely to return overdue books, reducing need for replacements. 

Ms Elliott added: '˜The amount of money brought in by fines is far outweighed by getting a good book back.

'˜When a ticket becomes overdue we will still take action and remind them to bring the book back. We have had people saying this is just a licence to give away stock but that is not the case.'