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Sheffield scraps library fines

Late book returns now won't incur a charge, in a move to encourage more people to use local libraries.

City centre graves gallery library
Rachel Rae Photography

Sheffield Council have said they’ve scrapped late return fines at the city's libraries, in a move to make them more accessible and welcoming to a wider range of people.

Charges will no longer apply at 15 council-run libraries across the city. Historic fines still on record, including those from before the pandemic, have also been waived.

The library service say they still encourage people to either return items on time or renew them, but that abolishing fines will "remove the barriers" that prevent people using libraries.

"From now on we will not be charging anyone for returning their books late," said Cllr Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure.

"We’ve never charged children, and the good news is, this now applies to all adults too."

In 2014 the University of Sheffield became one of the first in the UK to scrap late return fines at its own libraries, meaning no students would be prevented from graduating because of unpaid charges.

Dozens of public libraries across the UK have made similar moves, including Leeds in 2019, Blackpool earlier this month and Manchester on 1 April.

One report in the United States found that "eliminating fines increased general goodwill between users and staff" and that it led to "no increase in late book returns."

"If you have any overdue library books from before the pandemic, and you’re worried about paying the fines, just return them to your library", said Cllr Teal. "You won’t need to pay a fine."

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