Scrapping fines has boosted Blackpool's libraries

A move to scrap fines for the late return of library books has boosted the number of lenders using libraries in Blackpool.

Friday, 28th February 2020, 1:55 pm
Updated Friday, 28th February 2020, 1:55 pm
Palatine Library in South Shore

Since the charges were abolished in April last year, there has been a nine per cent increase in the number of people joining libraries.

The service is hoping to notch up 5,000 new members by the end of March this year.

It is proposed to continue the policy, which was introduced to encourage more people to use the town's eight libraries, for the next financial year.

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The loss of income of around £6,000 per year has been covered by the general council budget.

A council report says: "The removal of library overdue charges in 2019-20 has had a universal positive impact.

"Aside from the national profile it brought, the service has seen an increase in the number of people joining or re-joining which was ultimately one of the key aims in taking this bold step.

"The service has seen no increase in the number of overdue or lost items, and staff have reported a significant amount of ad hoc positive user feedback.

"It is still relatively ‘early days’ for the change (less than a full year), and performance and impact continues to be closely monitored, but the

service would very strongly recommend the council continues to not charge for overdue items."

Previously people had faced fines of 20p per day for late items.

Readers will also no longer have to pay charges of 70p per item to reserve a book from another Blackpool library when it is not available in their local branch.

The report adds this ties in with the "emerging Libraries Ambition Plan and the core principle of removing barriers to library access."