Withington residents worry as Manchester libraries ‘abolish fines’ on late books

  • Manchester libraries to abolish fines on overdue books  from 1 April
  • Decision intended to encourage more people to use their local library and reduce financial inequalities when borrowing books
  • Withington library users are sceptical changes will result in less books being returned

Manchester’s libraries are abolishing fines for late books in a bid to make reading more accessible.

Adults will no longer need to pay when returning overdue books to the city’s 23 libraries, joining children and over 60s who are already exempt from fines.

The decision is part of a bid to encourage more people to use their local libraries and enjoy reading.

According to Manchester city council, “the abandonment of fines is one way that the council is investing in local communities and ensuring that Manchester’s libraries are better suited to reach people from all backgrounds.”

The change also aims to reduce the inequalities surrounding libraries and the financial strain of being fined.

Withington library, Manchester libraries, books, late fines, reading
Some library users worry that the removal of late fees will start to deplete stock levels in Manchester’s libraries

When NQ asked Withington library members about the change, many were sceptical it would result in a positive change.

[They’re] usually pretty conscious people anyway, not book thieves

Sue Royle said: “Sadly, I think many people won’t bother to return books.”

Vikki Sarah-Ann added: “I suspect they’ll bring them back at the same rate, just probably more often late.

“There’s nothing to stop people from just keeping the books now if they really wanted to, so I can’t see how scrapping late fines would affect that.”

Laura McCarthy said: “The maximum is only £5 a book anyway, so if someone wanted to keep one I think they would anyway regardless of the fine.

“I say remove it. Most people who use a library and bother to get a library card are usually pretty conscious people anyway, not book thieves.”

However, some lenders were optimistic that scrapping late fees would be beneficial.

Patricia Reilly Hurst said: “I think books will be returned more often now they have scrapped the fines.”

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar said: “We want our libraries to be inclusive and accessible as possible and I am delighted that we will be abolishing fines very soon.

“I believe that books and the joys of reading should not be tied by financial constraints. Everyone, regardless of economic status, should be able to join the library and enjoy reading.

“I hope even more people will be encouraged to borrow books from their local libraries.”

The change will come into effect on 1 April, although lost book charges will still apply to books which are never returned.

The initiative is part of the council’s larger investment into libraries, which has seen numerous branches receive refurbishment over recent years.