Final chapter for Lake Mac Libraries late fees

Published on 01 July 2024

A borrower is assisted by a staff member in the library

Lake Mac Libraries is closing the book on late fees past and present in a bid to encourage more people to use the service, and to entice bookworms back to their local branch.

From 1 July, late fees will no longer be charged, in a shift of thinking that follows the lead of peak body ALIA – the Australian Library and Information Association.

Existing late fees will be removed from borrower accounts once all outstanding items have been returned.

Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said libraries were increasingly becoming multi-use hubs aimed at encouraging – not deterring – public use.

“Fines are perceived as a barrier to using library services, particularly for lower-income families who are most in need of them,” she said.

“The abolition of overdue fees will encourage members to return items, increase uptake of library collections and allow staff members to more effectively promote our services.”

Under the new system, borrowers with overdue items will have their memberships temporarily restricted, rather than a financial penalty imposed, until all items are returned.

Members will still incur replacement costs for lost or damaged items.

Other public library services to ditch late fees in recent years include City of Sydney, Wollongong and Maitland.

ALIA and the Australian Public Library Alliance take a similar stance.

“A growing number of Australian public libraries are removing fines for overdue items,” their joint statement says.

“This is in line with the global movement to make libraries more accessible for all people in our community.”

“A number of trials have established that often the cost of collecting overdue fines is greater than the revenue received.”

“Overdue fines are also a distraction from the core work of public libraries: lending items, encouraging reading and facilitating free access to information.”

Go to for more information about Lake Mac Libraries services and events.

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