Glasgow public libraries abolish 'Victorian' late return charges

Borrowers will no longer be charged fees of they return loaned literature after their allotted time under a new scheme to help facilities thrive.

Glasgow public libraries abolish ‘Victorian’ late return charges for borrowed books Glasgow Life
All public libraries in Glasgow will abolish fees for late return of books this month.

A Scottish council is to abolish fines for late return of library books in a bid to aid their long-term future.

Glasgow Life said it wanted to remove “barriers” for borrowing literature for low-income families and has cleared all outstanding fines throughout the city’s 33 public facilities.

It follows a campaign by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) to make libraries “accessible to all” amid criticism of the charges as “Victorian punishment”.

The arm’s length body manages leisure and sport facilities on behalf of Glasgow City Council and said more than 1.2 million books were borrowed in either eBook or hard copy form during that time.

SLIC previously cited examples of similar schemes in the United States, where public libraries in Chicago and Los Angeles dropped charges for late returns after finding the administrative process of chasing borrowers outweighed that of the fines received.

Under the previous rules, those found to have borrowed books over their allotted time could be charged up to £12 per item if it was not returned.

Andrew Olney, Glasgow Life’s head of communities and libraries, said: “Glasgow’s libraries play a fundamental role at the heart of the city’s communities; they’re vital safe spaces providing free access to books, digital resources, information and support which can improve health, wellbeing and social connection.

“Glasgow Life is committed to reducing inequality and we believe everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances, should be able to enjoy reading and all that their local library has to offer.

“By removing late book fines, we hope this will make Glasgow’s libraries more accessible to all.”