Library fines have become a thing of the past under a strategy aimed at increasing the number of library members.

The change, which came into effect on New Year's Day, means that all charges on library members accounts have been removed.

It is part of a public library strategy which aims to almost double active library membership by the end of 2022.

The typical charge for books that are overdue was five cent per day.

The strategy said fines have been shown to have a detrimental effect on library use by children and the disadvantaged.

There is also little evidence that they ensure timely returns, but rather may actually dissuade members and users from returning overdue items, according to the Our Public Library 2022 strategy.

Under the new regime, members will continue to receive reminds and emails to prompt them to return or renew overdue items.

If items are not returned before a third reminder is issued, then the member's library card will be blocked and they will not be able to take out or renew further items until the issue is resolved.

Minister Michael Ring, whose brief includes Community Development, has welcomed the change, saying "the elimination of library fines will help remove a significant barrier to library usage."