Islington Council has abolished library fines to help ensure libraries are a welcoming place for all, and to help people struggling with the cost of living.
Until now, fines were issued to adults who were late bringing back borrowed items to the libraries. The council recognises that these fines penalise people in financial hardship – the same people who are most helped by the services on offer across the borough’s network of public libraries – and can discourage them from borrowing books and other resources.
Cllr Roulin Khondoker, Executive Member for Equalities, Culture and Inclusion, said: “We know how vital our libraries are – they offer free access to books, the internet, events, warm spaces and so much more.
“Abolishing fines for late returns will help us make Islington a more equal borough by removing a barrier for our least well-off residents – encouraging them to make more use of the amazing facilities we have on offer. This is especially important at the moment as many people are already struggling with the cost of living.
“Free access to books can provide so much, for education and entertainment, so I am delighted that we can make our libraries more welcoming for people in Islington.”
As well as abolishing fines, Islington Council has introduced a fines amnesty to encourage users to return very overdue items. This means anyone who has delayed returning a late item because they could not afford the fines can once again feel comfortable using the libraries.
Islington expects abolishing fines will not affect library stock, and may encourage more residents to return overdue items as they will not face large fines. Borrowers will continue to be sent reminders to return books, and will still be expected to return books.
Library fines in Islington have been in place since free public libraries began in the borough in 1905.
Users aged between 18 and 60 years old were previously charged fines for books, audio books and music CDs at a rate of 17p per item per day overdue, up to a maximum charge per item of £7.65.
The council will keep the policy under review to ensure that it is working as anticipated.