Sheffield Council scraps library fines for late books

Sheffield Council has scrapped all fines for late items just a few months after Sheffield Cathedral received a book believed to be more than 300 years overdue.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 3:47 pm

Books or other items taken out in any of the 15 libraries run by the council will no longer incur fines, including any currently outstanding.

Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for leisure, said: “From now on we will not be charging anyone for returning their books late. We’ve never charged children and the good news is, this now applies to all adults too.

“If you have any overdue library books from before the pandemic and you’re worried about paying the fines, just return them to your library. You won’t need to pay a fine.

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Sheffield Central Library

“We are encouraging you to return any library materials you borrow on time or to renew them so that other people in Sheffield can enjoy them too.

“We’ve been helping local people connect with culture, learning and each other since 1856 in our libraries and we look forward to seeing you soon. Enjoy your reading with us and love your local library.”

The announcement was made following a suspension of fines which was due to end on March 31.

Sheffield’s most overdue library book?

Rev Canon Keith Farrow with the 300 year old book The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man

At the end of last year, staff at Sheffield Cathedral – which was well known for its library until Georgian times – opened a parcel to find a note requesting that a 1709 copy of The Faith and Practice of a Church of England Man be returned.

The Reverend Canon Keith Farrow, vice dean and canon missioner at the cathedral, joked: “I’m trying to work out what the librarian’s fine would be – you never know, we might get a new roof or something with the fine.

“But I did promise the family I wouldn’t charge them the fine – they’ve returned the book and that’s wonderful. So this little book, just over 300 years ago, left the library. Now it’s come back home so it’s a joy to have this little jewel back here in Sheffield Cathedral.”

Sheffield Council’s services review

There are 16 other libraries in Sheffield which are run by community and volunteer groups. The council’s plan to scrap fines does not necessarily mean fines will be scrapped in these too.

Questions were raised about whether the council would hand more libraries to volunteers as it grappled with a multi-million pound budget blackhole and reviewed services earlier this year.

During budget meetings, Ryan Keyworth, director of finance at the council, said: “We are planning a series of strategic reviews across the council to examine how we can maintain or improve services while saving money.

“That might mean doing things differently or working in a more joined up way. We may continue as a council to deliver services or deliver them in a different way.

Libraries is an example of something we did in the past, where we moved some libraries to be volunteer-led.

“There’s still an investment from the council in doing that but it’s a lower investment and is a way of continuing to provide those services to communities that are at a lower cost to the council taxpayer.”