MORE than £130,000 in fines for overdue library books have been waived by Gloucestershire County Council, it has been revealed.
The authority has however raked in more than £750,000 from readers across the county who have not returned their library books on time.
Figures covering the last four years have been released by the council following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which said it reinvested the cash into the service.
Councillor Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for communities, said: “There are a variety of reasons behind staff waiving fines, including illness or technical issues that may occur, and all money that is generated from fines is reinvested into the service for new books and equipment.”
“I’m really proud of our library service and I’d encourage people who have not used it for a while to drop by.”
In 2010 £84,051 was paid in fines on overdue books, then in 2011 the figure was £273,946, £254,269 in 2012, and £174,565 last year.
That makes a total of £786,831 over those four years. In the same period, £132,430 was waived; £27,600 in 2010, £48,248 in 2011, £32,107 in 2012, and £24,475 in 2013.
Councillor Binns said: “It’s good news that there are less late fines, because we’ve been working hard to make it easier to renew or return books and avoid fines. We’ve made it possible for books to be renewed online quickly and easily and introduced a library ‘app’ which sends return date reminders.
“Plus, the growing popularity of eBooks mean fines have reduced as the book simply stops being available, rather than needing to be returned.”
The council said it sets a maximum fine per overdue book of £8.20. Borrowers can have a maximum of 20 books on loan at £8.20 per item, so in theory, a potential £164 maximum fine could be accrued assuming all 20 books are loaned at the same time and not returned.
However, the council said library customers’ borrowing rights are suspended once their unpaid fines reach £10 and reinstated once fines owed fall below this level. It could not say what the longest running outstanding library book fine in Gloucestershire was, how many books are currently overdue or what the biggest fine was.