Fast Facts

City of Sydney closes the book on library fines

Kings Cross library. Image provided by the City of Sydney

Overdue fines at City of Sydney libraries have been shelved until 2021 following a successful trial which saw the return of items that were due back more than a decade ago.

67,945 overdue library resources were returned between July 2016 and February 2017 – more than triple the amount of overdue items returned in the twelve months prior.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore hailed the initiative that she hoped would be rolled out at libraries across the State.

“Library fines have always been used to deter people from leaving their books at home. But we’ve found that in most cases they had the opposite effect, frightening members into never returning their overdue items,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This new approach encourages positive community responsibility and sharing, rather than penalising people.

“It has resulted in the return of books many in the library thought we’d never see again. One book included a post card from Prague that dated back more than ten years.

“Ironically, many of the overdue books were in the self-help category, including books offering advice on how to declutter and tidy up.

“The trial resulted in a staggering increase of overdue items being returned, greater levels of customer satisfaction and freed up our staff to focus on more positive tasks, rather than administering fines.

“Under the new system, the library memberships will be suspended until an overdue item has been returned, an approach which has been welcomed by our members.”

Despite the success of the trial, a number of items are still well overdue.

“A junior book entitled Colours and a CD that teaches Russian to travellers were due back in March 2002 and we’re just about to clock 14 years since two editions of Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read’s autobiography were due back,” said the Lord Mayor.

The City of Sydney Library comprises nine branches at Customs House, Glebe, Green Square, Haymarket, Kings Cross, Newtown, Surry Hills, Waterloo and Ultimo as well as two library link services at Town Hall House and Pyrmont.

“There’s more than 415,000 items available for free at our libraries and we want more of our residents to enjoy the free resources available at their disposal,” the Lord Mayor said.

Source: City of Sydney

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