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Libraries loosen up and drop fines


Once upon a time, borrowers were fined when their library books were overdue. However, a new, kinder chapter has begun in the Irish library service, and fines for tardiness have been abolished in libraries throughout the land. All existing fines will be written off too.  
Since the start of this month, any library user who has overdue items can now return them confident that there will be no fines to pay. Their memberships can be reactivated on the spot, so they can start using their local library again straight away.
Commenting on the decision to drop the fines, County Librarian Austin Vaughan said: “Libraries are an invaluable resource for all in the community and we want to remove any barriers that might prevent people making full use of them. That is why we are eliminating fines and other charges.”
Vaughan went on to point out that more-relaxed, less-punitive attitude is more in keeping with the modern library and its ethos. “Libraries are welcoming spaces, where all members of the community can access knowledge, ideas and information, and where people can reflect, connect and learn,” he explained.
“Research has shown that people view fines as a barrier to membership and usage of libraries. In addition, fines disproportionately affect those on lower incomes and can create a negative association with library use for children. There is evidence that library services which have removed fines see an increase in usage following their removal and we very much hope that will be reflected now in our library services.”
Mayo Library Service is inviting all members of the community to visit a library during January and see for themselves all that is on offer there, completely free.  “We can promise that a resolution to use your library more is one you will find very easy to keep throughout the year,” said Vaughan.
The removal of fines for library users is one of the actions included in the national strategy, “Our Public Libraries 2022 – Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering Communities”. This strategy, launched in June 2018, aims to improve access to and increase use of the library as a community hub.