No more fines for late returns at Blackburn with Darwen libraries

Libraries across the borough are removing all fines for the late return of books and audio visual items.
There will also be an amnesty for outstanding or historic fines, meaning these will be taken off the system.
It is hoped the move will encourage more people to use the libraries, including those who may not have been for a while due to having overdue books and fines.
It could also help with the return of books and other items if the borrower does not feel a sense of embarrassment or shame returning late items due to a fine.
As well as the borrowing of books, libraries provide access to a large list of vital services including IT and digital training, community groups, literacy help and information services.
Fines have decreased in the past few years and are expected to drop further in the future. Plans have been made to manage the library budgets without the fines.
Other authorities in the region, including Blackpool, Oldham, Salford and Leeds, have also taken the decision to abolish late fines and have not reported a rise in the number of late returns.
There is evidence to suggest that this has resulted in a greater return of overdue books and stock and an increase in library visits and items being taken out.
However, there will still be a temporary ban on borrowing if a person has outstanding items and items that are lost damaged or not returned will still incur a small cost.
Several borrower categories, such as under-15s as well as blind and partially sighted people, are already exempt from fines and concessions are already in place for the over-65s.
Cllr Damian Talbot, Executive Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said:
“This is an important move for the library services, as there is evidence that people with outstanding fines or overdue items will stop going to libraries as they are worried about what the reaction might be.
We want people to know that there will not be any repercussions for bringing back overdue books, and we want as many people as possible to use the libraries, which dedicated staff and volunteers have worked so hard to keep open over the budget cuts of the last decade.
In terms of cancelling outstanding fines, there will be no questions asked and people can start again with a clean slate”.

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