Higher book fines ‘unfair’

A HIKE in late fees is penalising low-income families and discouraging people from borrowing books from struggling libraries, says Inglewood mother of two Narelle Hopkin.

Busy trying to juggle a toddler, a three-month-old and a recently diagnosed kidney problem that required doctor’s visits, Ms Hopkin was six days late with 12 books and shocked to be slugged $18.

She says the recently introduced fine of 25c a day per book is too high.

“I don’t think fines for late returns are a bad thing, I just think they need to be reasonably priced.

“Life is hectic and if I was a single mother who was struggling to get by, a $20 fine for returning books a week late would price me out of using the library.

“I know of other mums who have now stopped using the library because of the fines. The city should be trying to encourage more people to use libraries.”

Vincent and Bayswater council libraries do not charge for overdue books, and Perth charges $2 for every book five or more weeks late.

Stirling city library manager Viv Barton says residents have several options to avoid fines, including a courtesy reminder email, online and phone renewals and an after-hours chute.

“The city did consider waiving fines for the first offence when developing the fines policy, however, research of other local government authorities charging fines for overdue loans indicated this policy was not successful in ensuring items were returned on time, nor had any positive effect in changing borrower habits for those who continually returned overdue items.”

Ms Barton adds borrowers may ask that fines to be waived on medical grounds and exceptional circumstances using a formal waiver request process.

The maximum fine for each overdue book is $5.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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