Sheffield Council’s removal of library fines for late books causes concern

Written by Lucy Edwards

The public have responded with concern towards Sheffield libraries becoming fully “fine free” arguing that the “incentive” of a fine is important in ensuring the safe return of books and other library materials.

Fines were initially suspended until March 31st in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but now, following Sheffield Council’s announcement last week, they will be permanently waived.

Any books taken out or returned will no longer incur fines and historic fees will also be removed.

The move aims to encourage more people to join and use one of Sheffield’s 15 libraries, make them more accessible and help communities recover from the pandemic, by allowing those who may have a book from before the pandemic to return their books and use the library again without the worry of having to pay the fine.

Sheffield resident Calvin Payne said of the removal of the fines: “I never take my library book back late, I think its one of the most unsociable things to do, considering how easy it is to join and how much you can get for free and how much service they provide.”

“I really think there should be fines for it, because I think those fines end up contributing to the income for the library- I’m not quite sure why there’d be a reason for not having fines as an incentive and I don’t think it will make an awful lot of difference anyway to people who use the library regularly- you do occasionally see the person running up a 10 pound fine or something because they haven’t returned it for ages-  but I really can’t see the upside of it.

“I just love the library, it’s the one place you’re completely trusted to look after the things you borrow, nowhere else would let you do that. Some of the things you can borrow I imagine with DVDs and audio books could rack up quite a big cost if they’re taken.”

With ID, adults can borrow up to 15 books including audio books, 5 items of recorded music and 5 DVDs.

In contrast, Jack Wyatt, student from Sheffield Hallam University felt the removal of fines was a positive development, and said: “I think that’s encouraging, I know a lot of people especially younger people who would feel anxious about handing in something late.”

“Obviously there’s a lot of uni students and they get a lot of deadlines and stuff so I think encouraging people by saying like oh it’s okay if you want to hand that in later or still take the mick doing it- we don’t need corporal punishment for these things, its a book at the end of the day.”

Sheffield Libraries still encourage library materials to be brought back on time or renewed but if items are not returned within 60 days after their due date, they are considered lost and a replacement fee is still charged.

Written by Lucy Edwards

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