Library amnesty for overdue books?

Lancashire County Council may be considering a library book amnesty, as part of a review of the charges the county’s libraries currently impose for offences such as overdue books.

The plans are only speculative at present, and a full investigation is yet to be carried out prior to any official proposals being made.

“We are looking at all our charges for the library service and I will be considering a paper that is to be put forward as part of the County Council’s charges policy within the next few months,” said County Coun. Mike Calvert, cabinet member responsible for Lancashire’s libraries, “In that paper we may consider an increase in fines as one of our options. If that is agreed we would like to conduct a book amnesty at the same time.”

Thousands of books are not returned to public libraries every year for a wide range of reasons including forgetting or losing the book, moving home or dying before the books are returned.

Many people often feel embarrassed about facing heavy fines after having had books for a long time, and so do not return them. It is hoped that an amnesty would encourage people to return books to the libraries so that they can either be reissued or sold to raise funds.

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East Lancashire has been reported as having the worst record in the country for missing library books, with over 5000 not being returned in Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Rossendale and the Ribble Valley in 2010 alone.

“We have undertaken these in the past as a goodwill gesture, it doesn’t always result in a great deal of material being returned but it is a positive step,” said County Coun. Calvert, “Any new plans would certainly not just apply in the east of the county but across the whole of Lancashire.”