FINES and charges are being scrapped in Somerset libraries for ten weeks

Since libraries reopened last April following the end of lockdown, thousands of local people have started using the service again, with more than half a million visits and in excess of 16,000 new members.

To encourage more people to reconnect with library services and support communities as they start to recover from the impact of the pandemic, Somerset Libraries is going fines and charges free from January 21 until March 31.

For children and young people under 17 there will be no charge for using any library service during that period - including requests for specific titles, DVD/Talking Book hire, and fines for the late return of library loans.

The service will also clear outstanding or historic charges for all library users with no questions asked during the same period.

To take advantage of the ‘welcome back’ offer, visit your local library and speak to a member of staff, who will arrange for any money on your account incurred before January 21 will be removed, and if you are under 17 there will be no charge for any services you use.

All core library services are and will remain free of charge during those ten weeks, but charges will apply to items borrowed during this period that go overdue post March 31.

The library has a whole host of measures in place to help you easily manage your account and you should talk to library staff to discuss what might work best for you.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, said: “It’s fantastic that communities are embracing their local library once again, and we hope that this charges amnesty can provide a bit of extra support to those hardest hit by the pandemic, in particular children and young people.

“This is a great opportunity for people to get down to their local library and reignite that love of reading.

"And if you haven’t visited the library for a while, you may find things have changed, as there are a whole host of new services, including e-books, e-magazines, and e-newspapers.

"So, pop down to your local library and find out more."