Following a decision taken by the Oldham Labour group in July, fines will no longer be levied at any of the borough’s libraries. The decision was taken to make libraries more inclusive and open, following recognition that for many residents existing fines or the threat of them were reducing library usage.
Evidence from elsewhere shows that fines do not encourage people to return books, but instead discourage people from using the library at all. Libraries elsewhere that have trialled the removal of fines report no increase in the number of books that go unreturned, but a significant improvement in engagement.
Leader of Oldham Council, and Cabinet Member for Economy and Enterprise, Councillor Sean Fielding, said:
“Reading is critical to personal development and wellbeing and we want to remove known barriers to access and ensure that those most who could benefit the most from the service are not put off, or worried about receiving fines.
“I remember first joining Oldham Libraries when I was taken along to sign up at Failsworth Library back when I was at Primary School. I’ve been a library member ever since.
“I want to encourage as many people as possible to come and visit our libraries, get involved in all the great activities we have to offer and get all the benefits of reading that I have enjoyed since joining the library over 20 years ago.
“I hope people return their overdue books, no matter how late they are.
“This campaign is vital to allow us to re-engage with our current visitors, as well as attracting new users from across Oldham.
“I’m proud that the decision supports our vision for creating thriving communities in Oldham.”