No more late fees at Benalla Library

Photo by Simon Ruppert

Library late fees in Benalla are now a thing of the past.

Book lovers of all ages will no longer be charged overdue fees in libraries across the High Country Library Network.

Network member councils, including Benalla Rural City Council, will remove library late penalties from July 1, after research showed that fines can deter vulnerable people from accessing vital services provided by libraries.

“Our libraries are a space for connection, learning and accessing important services,” Benalla Rural City Mayor Bernie Hearn said.

“Library memberships give community members the chance to experience something new, and we want that experience to be fair for everyone.

“It’s becoming clear that overdue fines have a significant impact on patrons, often causing them to stop using their library due to financial impacts, fear and embarrassment,

“Once fines are removed, more books get returned.

“People who might otherwise stay away, often the more vulnerable members of the community, are encouraged to return to the library.”

Public Libraries Victoria chief executive officer Angela Savage said councils had done the maths and realised it costed more to impose fines than it did to recoup the money.

About 70 per cent of library services in Victoria have now abolished library fines.

Other councils in the network to remove fines are Alpine Shire Council, Mansfield Shire Council and the Rural City of Wangaratta.

Charges will still apply for lost or damaged items and borrowers will still be given a due date and receive a reminder if someone else has a borrowed item on hold.