SOLIHULL councillors are looking at plans to scrap fines for overdue library books – after visitor numbers fell by a third over four years.
Kate Bunting, Solihull council’s lead for libraries, has written to Councillor Alison Rolf, cabinet member for safer communities, to request she changes how the borough’s overdue books are managed.
Ms Bunting stated: “Our current approach involves levying lots of small fines, which over time it may be not cost effective to pursue and ultimately become uncollectable.
“The removal of library fines [could support] the key messages of libraries as a safe and equitable place for all residents, and its aims to improve literacy, social and health well-being and to support the reduction of social isolation.”
The plan is set for consultation, and if approved, fines could be axed from April 2021.
Librarians would still send reminders to ensure borrowed items are returned on time, ensuring as many books as possible are available to library members.
According to council figures, borrowing levels for books, audio books, CDs and DVDs declined by 28.2 per cent in four years, from 570,500 items in 2014/15 to 409,500 in 2018/19.
Library members have embraced digital resources, however, with use of ebooks, and online magazine subscriptions increasing by over 1.5 times from 34,500 in 2014-15 to over 92,000 in 2018-19.
In the same period, visitor numbers to Solihull’s libraries fell by 33.5 per cent from over 860,500 visitors to 572,000 visitors.