One of the biggest positive steps I see is the new library won't charge late fees.- Councillor Ben Blain
Avid readers have been urged to return to Warrnambool's library with the city council voting to waive more than $100,000 in outstanding late fees.
Councillors voted unanimously to abolish late fees and invite everyone back with a "clean slate" at Monday's meeting.
Councillors were presented a report that showed 32 libraries had abolished fines.
"Globally public libraries are rethinking the purpose and efficacy of charging overdue fines as a deterrent to overdue books," the report states.
Instead, the council will put in place a system where library users will be suspended from borrowing further items after a book is six weeks overdue.
At that time they will be sent an invoice for the replacement cost.
Councillor Ben Blain said he supported the move.
"I'm happy to support the new fee schedule for the library," Cr Blain said.
"One of the biggest positive steps I see is the new library won't charge late fees.
"It's been found this discourages the use of local libraries."
Cr Blain said he hoped waiving late fees would encourage past users to return to the library.
"We're starting afresh," he said. "We're going to welcome everyone back on an even playing field."
Cr Angie Paspaliaris said she also supported the changes.
"I do like the idea of the overdue system not being a barrier to future library engagements," she said.
Cr Richard Ziegeler also endorsed the changes, with the council taking over the running of the library.
"I'm very pleased there has been a way around the recovery of books and the fines system," he said.
"I just wonder whether we will get a huge rush of books returned back to the library."
The council had projected an income of $7000 in late fees in its 2020/21 budget.
"Given closures due to the pandemic and that new fees and charges will not apply until December, council should expect that income will be less than anticipated across the board and if council endorses the recommendation not to charge overdue fees, then $7000 will not be received," the report presented to the council states.
Warrnambool City Council exited from the Corangamite Regional Library Corporation on July 1.
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