Thousands of pounds in fines for overdue library items

If you forget to take your library book back, you’ll have to pay 20p per day in fines.
Green councillor Martin PhippsGreen councillor Martin Phipps
Green councillor Martin Phipps

But those pennies all add up – and have generated more than half a million pounds for Sheffield Council over the past eight years.

Since 2011, the council has collected £511,786 in overdue fines for books, DVDs and music.

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For overdue books, borrowers are charged 20p per day for each day the library is open, up to a maximum of £5 per item.

With DVDs and music, for each week or part week that items are kept beyond the initial loan period, a charge is made equivalent to the original lending charge, up to a maximum of £10.

Libraries have also generated £217,753 through computer printing and £108,714 by charging people for photocopies.

It’s a total income of £838,253 for libraries owned and run by the council.

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Green councillor Martin Phipps asked about the charges through a written question to the council.

He said: “Trafford Council recently abolished late fee fines to try to make their libraries more accessible and well-used and I think this is something we should definitely be looking at.

“Libraries are incredibly important pillars of local communities. Everyone should be able to access books and the internet, which is increasingly necessary for day to day life, but is still not something everyone has access to or are able to use.

“Beyond being a source of information libraries are often really important points of support, with people using the computers to claim benefits, librarians often helping to support people and signpost them to services, and offering an escape in their books to everyone.”