Readers’ fines hit �72,000

THE library service in Suffolk is owed more than �72,000 in unpaid fines from forgetful readers.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that library users who have failed to return books on time are �72,188 in the red.

The sum represents more than 1pc of Suffolk County Council’s entire library budget for the year. At the top of the table is Ipswich County Library where readers owe �14,914, meanwhile readers in Lowestoft have racked up �8,957 in unpaid fines and Bury St Edmunds Library is owed �6,832.

Western Mobile Library is owed �6.61, readers in Glemsford owe �61.07 and Stradbroke Library is only �71.41 out of pocket.

Members are entitled to borrow up to 20 titles for a maximum period of six weeks. However, books can be renewed up to six times at any branch, over the phone or online.

Adults are charged 10p per day on overdue books - to a maximum of �7 - while children’s books are charged at a penny a day. DVDs can be borrowed at a cost of �3 per week and borrowers are charged 50p per day if they fail to return them on time. The maximum charge is set at �35.

A 70-year-old user at Ipswich County Library, in Northgate Street, said: “I am very surprised by how much is owed.

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“They should chase people for these fines - what is the point of issuing them if you are not going to collect the money?”

He believes those who owe money should not be allowed to borrow any other items until the fine is paid.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Our policy is to send out overdue notices after the fourth week, the seventh week and again after 10 weeks.

“At that point, we send a bill for replacement. If it is not paid, we do not allow people to borrow anything else from the library.

“We encourage borrowers to pay outstanding fines when visiting any Suffolk library, and this information is also available to people on their online account.”