Libraries owed thousands in fines

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Unpaid fines for overdue library books mean Northamptonshire County Council is out of pocket to the tune of nearly £31,000, figures have revealed.

The 36 libraries run by the county council are owed a total of £30,925.29 as of the beginning of October 2012, according to answers provided following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

In the east of the county, Wellingborough library is owed £2,402.16, Corby is awaiting £1,848.26 in outstanding fines, Kettering is owed £1,608.25 and users of Rushden library are £1,234.66 in its debt.

Northamptonshire’s smallest library by the total number of annual visitors, Finedon, is owed £71.30.

Last year, a separate FoI request showed there were more than 22,000 overdue books waiting to be returned to the county’s libraries.

Cllr Heather Smith, the cabinet member for customer and community services, said that although dealing with library fines was part of the usual business for any library service, the total outstanding fines should not be over-emphasised.

She said: “It’s worth noting that there are 36 libraries where thousands of items are borrowed every month, but £30,925 equates to less than £1,000 per library, per year.”

She added: “Library fines do feature as part of the library service’s income.

“However, we try to make it as easy as possible for customers to return their books on time and avoid fines.”