Gwynedd Council has decided to scrap charges for books that are returned late to the county's libraries.

During the pandemic, a decision was taken to automatically extend return dates, which meant that books could never be late.

The decision by the Council which will be in place from 1 April 2021, means that library users will no longer be penalised for late returns.

Fines on books for children and young people under the age of 18 ended in Gwynedd a number of years ago. This was introduced as fines were seen to be a barrier to young people and families accessing the library - the same principle now applies to books returned late by adults.

Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council's Cabinet Member with responsibility for Libraries, said:

“I'm delighted that we are doing away with fines on books that are returned late by adults. Our aim is to encourage the people of Gwynedd to make the most of all the book collections we have, including the health and self-help collections available in our libraries.

“Throughout the Covid period, we have stopped charging fees for late returns. We know that people have struggled over the last year, and many people have missed out on being able to visit their local library during the lockdown periods.

“The reality is that many people see fines as a barrier to be able to make the most of libraries. We hope that getting rid of fines altogether is a way to encourage more people to use their library without fear of penalties if they return their books a few days late.

"Libraries are invaluable resources for everyone in the community, and we want to remove any obstacles that might prevent people from making full use of them."

The Republic of Ireland has done away with fines completely since January 2019, and at least 15 British Library Authorities have suspended fines within recent years. Gwynedd will be among the few Library Authorities in Wales to get rid of fines.

Any existing fines on Gwynedd library users' accounts will now be removed, giving everyone a clean slate to visit their library when existing automatic renewal arrangements are over, and the fixed loan period restored.

However, the Library Service is keen to emphasise that users need to assist them by returning their books within a reasonable time. Although there will be no fines under the new scheme, users will be expected to return books within 12 weeks of the return date before receiving a note asking them to return or pay for their book.

Anyone can keep track of their library account by visiting and logging in with their membership card number and PIN.