News | 30 June 2022
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Wellington City Libraries end overdue fines

Wellington City Libraries is delighted to announce that from tomorrow, 1 July, overdue fines will come to an end.

A girl reading a book sitting up high in a circular cubby hole at Te Awe Library, with a man walking past and another girl reading on a comfy, wide rectangular seat.

Wellington City Councillors approved the new fines free policy as part of the 2022/2023 Annual Plan, which was formally adopted by Wellington City Council today. The initiative received strong support during community consultation on the Annual Plan which was carried out in April.

What does it mean?

The new policy means that no overdue library fines will be charged from 1 July 2022. In addition, current overdue fines on library cards as at 30 June 2022 will be wiped, though outstanding debts that have been referred to a debt collection agency will remain on cards and continue to apply.

Customers with library cards that were previously blocked due to unpaid overdue fines will now be able to use their cards, as long as that debt has not been referred to an agency. 

Existing rules still apply on replacing lost books

The new policy does not alter existing rules for lost items. If items are not returned after 30 days, replacement cost fees will still apply and library cards will be blocked until the fee is paid or item returned.

Customers will still be notified about due dates and encouraged to return books for others who are waiting.

The new policy does not apply to issues or services such as DVD loans, expired reserve fees or inter-loan fees.

Children's books at the library

Access for everyone

Laurinda Thomas, Manager Libraries & Community Spaces, says “We want everyone to have fair and easy access to information, reading, and learning through our libraries.

“Overdue fines have disproportionately affected those who cannot afford to pay. There are families who have stopped borrowing items due to the fear of running up even small fines which they cannot afford.  

“However, the core of our library vision is access for everyone, and removing fines will increase the number of customers who are able to use our libraries – it’s as simple as that!

“With our new fines free policy, we look forward to welcoming back customers who may have stopped using the library due to previous fines,” she says.

Encouraging return of items

A common assumption was that fines were a motivator for returning items to the library, but evidence from libraries which have implemented fines free policies revealed that the return rates were the same or better than when charging fines. 

“There was a customer perception that they will ‘get in trouble’ for returning items that are overdue. In fact, some libraries have seen a significant increase in returned books after they eliminated overdue fines. People were more likely to return items in the long run,” says Laurinda Thomas.  

More information on the new fines free policy can be found at Wellington City Libraries.