Friday 03 February 2023

Tall tales in decline as libraries abolish fines for late returns

Around 60% of libraries have scrapped or reduced fines. Photo: depositphotos

One in three libraries in the Netherlands have abolished fines for late returns, according to a study of public lenders across the country.

Around 60% libraries have scaled back their fines or scrapped them altogether since 2014, librarian Mark Deckers found.

Some libraries have abolished fines for children, while others offered a fine-free ‘premium’ membership level for an extra annual charge.

Deckers said the move had had little impact on the number of books that were returned late or disappeared. ‘Books come back to the library even if no fines are issued,’ he wrote on his website.

Fines for children sometimes prompted parents to cancel their subscription after receiving a hefty bill for late returns, depriving them of the opportunity to read, Deckers added.

Barbara Deuss, who works at the library in Zutphen, said there had been no rise in the number of books that went missing since fines were abolished.

‘There are families, especially here in Zutphen, who don’t have an easy time of it financially. Sometimes they end up with big fines, especially when several children hand in their books late.

‘Sometimes they stop coming to avoid having to pay the fines. We don’t want that, because we very much want everyone to keep coming in.’

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