New chapter for libraries

Libraries in the Tamworth Region will today turn a page with how they operate and close the book on overdue fees.

The move comes after the Central Northern Regional Libraries group decided to make the change in line with trends in the library sector.

They have also agreed to reduce the loan limit for each borrower from 50 items to 20 items. Loan periods remain unchanged with the exception of renewals. Items are now able to be renewed for two weeks, and up to five times, if the item has not been reserved by another borrower.

Tamworth Regional Council Information and Collections Librarian, Shiralee Franks, said abolishing overdue fees is seen as a way of removing a barrier to borrowing for some members of the community.

“Abolishing overdue fees has gained momentum recently with 25 public libraries around NSW no longer charging fees for items returned late,” she said. “Those libraries have reported a growth in membership.

“The membership of Central Northern Regional Libraries decided that our main aim is to have books in people’s homes rather than on library shelves.

“We all found that overdue fees tended to impact some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and largely did not have the effect of prompting the return of overdue items.

“The overdue fees produced little in terms of revenue and they did not serve our group’s vision of investing in the future of our communities by creating an environment for learning, innovation and social connection.”

The removal of fines is among a series of recent initiatives for Central Northern Regional Libraries using new technology to improve operations. These include the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to increase the efficiency of loaning library resources and the development of an app to enhance the experience for library users.

The app can be downloaded from either Google Play Store or the Apple store by searching for “CNR Library”. They will need to put in their library membership number and password to then set the app up. The app will allow them to renew borrowed items, check on reservations, access their library’s e-resources, search the catalogue and learn about events at their local library.

Central Northern Region Libraries is a group which serves the residents of Tamworth Regional Council, Walcha Council and the Shires of Narrabri, Liverpool Plains, Uralla and Gwydir.

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