Trafford has shocked the UK public library world by announcing that they will be removing all library fines from 1st April. The reasons put forward for that by councillors is that fines are off-putting for customers, no fines will increase usage (and indeed will increase returns as people know they won’t get fined if they’re late) and that there should not be any barriers to accessing libraries. Children were especially mentioned as benefitting from no fines and Trafford will also be giving a library card to every child. One suspects as well that it will be a nice thing to say the council has done if local elections are coming up.

This is not the first library service in England to remove fines – Rutland does not have fines and I understand from Twitter that there’s one or two in Scotland (West Lothian and West Dunbartonshire) – but it is the first major (sorry Rutland) or metropolitan library service in England to go down this route and so will inevitably be noticed more. It also ties in with a global trend I’ve been noticing for a while (especially in the USA and Australia) where libraries have been removing fine due to it being a barrier (after all, we’ve removed physical ones years ago), inequitable and no longer needed now we have the power to automatically online renew.

The big barrier to this in the UK is of course where the money is going to come from if we get rid of fines. Charging people for late books does bring in some money that will need to be replaced in another way. There’s also – no surprise in the library world this – a fundamental lack of research of shared data on how effective removing fines are. We need that evidence shared in order to spread good practice and identify bad. Personally, I am tired of seeing people arguing over fines in libraries and I know that fines are a reason people tell me socially they no longer use libraries. So I really hope this is a successful experiment. And an experiment that produces what a good experiment always does: actual shareable data on the result.

There’s more information on pros and cons on fines (and the thorny problem of fines recovery) on this page.


National news

  • CLPE and BookTrust to review BAME representation in kids’ books – BookSeller. “The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) is teaming up with BookTrust to review ethnic representation in children’s literature. CLPE is launching an initiative called “reflecting realities” and will look at the representation of BAME characters in children’s books.”
  • Councils Face 20% Fee Hike To Bail Out Carillion Deals – Huffington Post. “PWC, which is overseeing Carillion’s liquidation, is demanding local authorities stump up on average 20% extra for contracts such as library services and construction work as the Official Receiver attempts to claw back the firm’s losses, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).”
  • Welsh Librarian of the Year Award 2018. Nominations open – CILIP. “Past winners of the award have all made a demonstrable impact on their service and to their community, as well as displaying commitment to the profession itself. “

An online bookclub from Axiell Local news by authority