Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds libraries axe fines for late library books

A library shelf Image copyright Leeds City Council
Image caption Leeds City Council said "relatively small sums can be a real barrier"

Libraries in Leeds will no longer fine people for returning books late in a bid to boost numbers using the service.

All current fines owed on overdue books have been wiped in an amnesty, said Leeds Libraries.

The chief librarian said: "By changing our policy and also making it easier to join, Leeds Libraries will be accessible to more people than ever".

People will also no longer need to show proof of identity and address to join the free service.

The announcement was made on Twitter.

Leeds City Council runs more than 30 libraries, the biggest being Central library in the city centre.

Andrea Ellison, the city's chief librarian, said: "Library fines may have been designed to encourage people to return books on time, but even relatively small sums can be a real barrier, causing many to miss out on free services."

Deputy council leader James Lewis said: "We hope more children will join the library and that anyone studying, looking for a job, starting a business or needing help getting online will find it easier to access our service."

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Image copyright Google
Image caption The council has a network of more than 30 libraries

Sonia Ramdhian, of CILIP: the Library and Information Association, said: "There is a move towards no fines; it's found to be more inclusive and encourage library visitors.

"It is a growing movement internationally."

Other councils to have scrapped fines include Barnsley, Halton Borough and Oldham.

"A fine-free policy has succeeded in public libraries around the world, from Chicago to Blackpool", said Leeds council.

Anyone returning a late loan will find the record for Leeds' most overdue book hard to beat.

Rusholme Hutton borrowed The Siege of Troy and the Wanderings of Ulysses from Armley Library in 1883.

His grandson returned the weighty tome more than a century later, said the council.

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