It’s been just over a 12 months since fines were removed from Christchurch City Libraries.
And in that year, membership and borrowing numbers have increased, while public feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Christchurch City Councillors are set to receive an update report on the impact removing fines on overdue material and removing historical debt has had since 1 March 2022.
Since then the library has had a 10% increase in the number of new members compared to the previous year. The number of issues also increased 4.2%.
“Feedback from customers has indicated relief, joy and delight in being able to use the library again after many years of not being able to access services due to owing fines,” says Erica Rankin, Acting Head of Libraries and Information.
“From a staff perspective, conversations with customers have moved from what was negative interactions into really positive ones.”
“In addition to improving access to our collections, services and facilities, the removal of fines has demonstrated empathy and enabled relationships with our customers to be strengthened by creating trust and showing respect,” she says.
“The removal of fines has given customers more choice in how to access the collection. Parents are no longer penalised for overdue children’s books being issued mistakenly on their card.”
“For others it has provided extra time to enjoy their reading material and support their wellbeing without the pressure or worry of having books back by a certain time and finding money to pay fines.”
Holds fees reduced from $3 to $2 from 1 July 2022 and since then there has been a 16% increase in people utilising this service. Hold fees were removed entirely for residents using the rural Akaroa and Little River libraries and holds at these libraries have jumped by 46%.
The removal of fines has had a minimal impact on access to popular books, while the number of late returns has fluctuated in line with the number of books issued.
Replacement charges for lost items still apply and if material is not returned 28 days after their due date, library users are unable to issue more items until their overdue material is returned.