Late fees are a thing of the past

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Food for Fines

Following a unanimous vote by Yarra Council, late fees will no longer be applied to overdue items from Sunday 1 September 2019.

Research has shown that charging late fees is an ineffective control method for ensuring library items get returned on time. We heard this practice was unfairly persecuting parts of the community who need our service the most, and recognised the fear of incurring a fine was preventing some community members from using our service at all.

We believe this practice is undermining the very core of public library service (to provide free and universal access to information), and that’s why we’re getting rid of it.

Abolishing fines will help our community get more involved with library life and to take advantage of the many great resources and programs on offer.

You can view the formal decision on the new Library Policy in the resolution below.

Yarra Council resolution of Tuesday 30 July 2019

That Council:
  • note and endorse the changes to the updated Library Policy that seek to improve the customer experience of Library Services in line with contemporary best practice;
  • authorise officers to discontinue the issuing Library fines for customers who have overdue items and amend the policy accordingly; and
  • receive a report in 12 months on the effects of discontinuing the issuing of Library fines both in terms of net financial impact and the number of items not returned to the service.


Food for Fines – how does it work?

To give everyone a fair go, we’re forgiving all existing late fees in exchange for a donation of goods in something we’re calling “Food for Fines”.

We hope this might encourage library members with longstanding fines to reconnect with us – just bring back your long overdue items, no questions asked.

Until Tuesday 31 December 2019, you can have your fines forgiven simply by donating goods from the following list:

  • Canned fruit, vegetables, fish, soups and meals
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Sauces and seasonings
  • UHT milk and juices
  • Coffee, tea and spreads
  • Rice, pasta and noodles
  • Cereal
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap and deodorant
  • Dental floss, toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Pet food
  • Household cleaning items

We will accept goods that are unopened, in their original packaging with full ingredient and allergen listing, and within their “best before” or “use by” date.

How can I have my late fees forgiven?

Simply donate an item(s) and we will forgive your fines. No matter how much you owe us, the debt will be cleared by your donation and you’ll never pay late fees at Yarra Libraries again.

Donations are accepted at all Yarra Libraries branches, please speak to a staff member for assistance.

Charges for lost/damaged items and their processing fees are exempt from this amnesty – sorry, we can’t forgive those.

What if I still have items out that are overdue?

You can return your items at any time, no questions asked. No further late fees will be applied from Sunday 1 September 2019, and any existing late fees can be forgiven through the Food for Fines amnesty.

What happens when the Food for Fines amnesty ends?

After Tuesday 31 December 2019, we will stop collecting donated goods in exchange for forgiving fines. Utilise this time to clear any fees on your account and give yourself a fresh start.

Why are you running a food drive?

Hosting a food drive is a great way to collect much-needed food and grocery items and also raise awareness about food insecurity in Australia. We care about fostering a strong sense of community and shared responsibility and believe this is an excellent gesture towards those ideals. We also believe it will help give back to some of the most vulnerable members if our community who might have felt persecuted by our old policy.

What will happen to the donated goods?

Donated goods will be given to Foodbank Victoria who will pack and distribute mixed grocery hampers to people in need.

Foodbank Victoria is an independent not-for-profit organisation with almost 90 years’ of food relief experience. Each month, Foodbank Victoria sources and distributes food to over 100,000 Victorians who rely on its food assistance – more than a quarter of whom are children.

Won't customers just keep library items forever?

Borrowed items will still have a due date and can’t be renewed if somebody is waiting to borrow them. Members with overdue items cannot borrow more until they are returned.

For more information about Food for Fines please call us on 1300 695 427


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