Hume library patrons will be able to return overdue items without fear of being fined during an 18-month trial.

Hume libraries will not charge overdue fines during the trial which will start on January 1, 2020 and run until June 30, 2021.

The trial will be evaluated in early 2021.

Charges for lost or damaged items will still apply.

A report to a recent Hume council meeting stated that 20 of Victoria’s library services have abolished overdue fines.

The report said that in 2018-19, Hume libraries issued 46,131 overdue notices.

During the same period, 847 library members did not return any, or some of their library items.

“Of these 92 per cent stopped using the library,” the report said.

“It is assumed that there is a direct correlation between the library fines and their usage of the service.”

Cr Naim Kurt said overdue fines were known to affect people from low socio-economic backgrounds who could not afford to pay the fines.

“Research has shown that the trial should be a real positive for our community in Hume and through the trial we expect to see an increase in the number of library items being borrowed, an increase in library membership, and an increase in the library collection turnover,” he said.

“In addition, we will see a reduction in the number of books that are never returned and also a reduction in library members’ complaints in relation to charges.”

Yarra Plenty Regional Library, which runs Whittlesea’s libraries, abolished overdue fines on July 1.

A fine amnesty will run at Hume libraries during November and December, allowing members to donate non-perishable food to pay their overdue fines.

Food collected will be donated to Anglicare in Broadmeadows and Craigieburn.