Libraries owed a 'staggering' £100,000 in fines by borrowers

Keighley Library which is owed £18,800 in unpaid fines by lenders

Keighley Library which is owed £18,800 in unpaid fines by lenders

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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

BRADFORD Council has been criticised for the “staggering” £109,000 it is owed in outstanding library fines.

The debt, which has soared by 30 per cent in the last ten months, should be collected and used to keep library services running at full capacity, say opposition councillors.

The amount outstanding has increased from £83,842 last September to £109,810 up to July 31 this year – a hike of £25,968.

The surge comes after two years of driving down how much the Council is owed, thanks in part to readers being sent text messages reminding them of their debt to speed up repayments.

Between November 2011 and September last year, the amount owed was cut by half – but now it has risen above £100,000 again, leading to calls for an inquiry into why.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Bradford, said the numbers involved were astonishing.

“It is a lot of money that should be paid,” she said.

“What staggers me is the amount of money involved. How many books is that?

“I am staggered by the amount of money involved. There must be an awful lot of books that haven’t been returned.

“If that money was paid in, those fines could actually keep the library services running in other places that have been proposed as being cut.”

Cllr Sunderland added: “What is sad is that people do not take library books back and are denying others the chance to use that book.

“Libraries only work when people borrow books and take them back.”

However, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, the Council’s executive member for employment, skills and culture, countered, stating that the amount of fines issued each month was going down.

In the 31 months, since November 2011, the monthly average for unpaid fines was £3,542.

In the ten months since last September it has averaged at £2,596 per month.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “I’m pleased to see that the amount of fines we are issuing each month is actually going down.

“That’s because we’ve now got more ways of communicating with library users to remind them about renewing their book before they get a fine.

“We use e-mails and text messaging to remind people as well as more traditional letters.

“It’s not about catching people out, it’s about getting the books back so other people can use them.”

Deputy leader of the Conservative group in Bradford, Simon Cooke, said the Council needed to do more to collect the cash.

He said: “It’s concerning. We do need to get to the bottom of why this is happening.

“This is a false economy really. The Council needs to spend more time collecting the money for outstanding fines, rather than telling us how many they are issuing per month.”

The local authority said that between November 1, 2011 and July 31 this year, a total of £403,565 had been built up in fines – though some are written off for reasons including bereavement, library closure, family emergency or staff error.

The worst offenders are book-borrowers in Keighley, where the town’s main library has £18,882 outstanding in unpaid fines.

The next five worst are: Manningham at £11,596; Shipley at £11,549; Eccleshill at £9,204; Bingley at £5,615 and Laisterdyke at £5,046.

On the opposite end of the scale, Haworth Library has no outstanding fines owed.

Apart from travelling libraries, only three libraries have outstanding fines under £100 – Addingham with £80.80; Wilsden at £43.80 and Keighley Local Studies at £12.65.

The highest library fine owed by an individual in Bradford district is £293.25. There are at least nine people with fines each totalling £250 or more.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said the fine for a book returned late was 10p per day.

Comments (33)

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6:56am Mon 11 Aug 14

Albion. says...

Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?
Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book? Albion.
  • Score: 14

8:06am Mon 11 Aug 14

OLDLAD says...

These people need to be brought to book. Maybe then they will turn over a new leaf and start a new chapter in their lives.
These people need to be brought to book. Maybe then they will turn over a new leaf and start a new chapter in their lives. OLDLAD
  • Score: 16

8:31am Mon 11 Aug 14

pww of idle says...

Typical of Bratfud Council ; only law-abiding citizens are chased up !!!!!
Typical of Bratfud Council ; only law-abiding citizens are chased up !!!!! pww of idle
  • Score: 8

8:45am Mon 11 Aug 14

Cityman23 says...

OLDLAD wrote:
These people need to be brought to book. Maybe then they will turn over a new leaf and start a new chapter in their lives.
Good one! Though you might say, "throw the book at them" unless of course it was lost!
[quote][p][bold]OLDLAD[/bold] wrote: These people need to be brought to book. Maybe then they will turn over a new leaf and start a new chapter in their lives.[/p][/quote]Good one! Though you might say, "throw the book at them" unless of course it was lost! Cityman23
  • Score: 4

8:47am Mon 11 Aug 14

Farsley Bantam says...

Albion. wrote:
Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?
That's a novel idea.
[quote][p][bold]Albion.[/bold] wrote: Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?[/p][/quote]That's a novel idea. Farsley Bantam
  • Score: 4

8:52am Mon 11 Aug 14

Cityman23 says...

In the spirit of punning, I would say :

Read them the riot act, give them the strong word, followed by a stiff sentence.
In the spirit of punning, I would say : Read them the riot act, give them the strong word, followed by a stiff sentence. Cityman23
  • Score: 3

8:55am Mon 11 Aug 14

OLDLAD says...

Farsley Bantam wrote:
Albion. wrote:
Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?
That's a novel idea.
Good one. But here's a question for albion. Make an offender pay a deposit - most offenders go once and never return. How would you show them as offenders?
[quote][p][bold]Farsley Bantam[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Albion.[/bold] wrote: Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?[/p][/quote]That's a novel idea.[/p][/quote]Good one. But here's a question for albion. Make an offender pay a deposit - most offenders go once and never return. How would you show them as offenders? OLDLAD
  • Score: 4

9:01am Mon 11 Aug 14

OLDLAD says...

The council and librarians need to grow a spine and stop playing with words. How is so much money owed when libraries are closing? Someone needs to check the books.
The council and librarians need to grow a spine and stop playing with words. How is so much money owed when libraries are closing? Someone needs to check the books. OLDLAD
  • Score: 2

9:15am Mon 11 Aug 14

cockadoodledo says...

Does this mean that the books still have not been returned?
OR Is this amount, the costs of the books missing plus 10p a day fines?
Or just the costs of unpaid fines?
As I am an OAP we do not incur fines, but do these books ever get returned, there should be a more stringent follow up procedure,

It should be quite simple really, any fines or unreturned books, then no further borrowing until fines and returns are accounted for. Simple!!
Does this mean that the books still have not been returned? OR Is this amount, the costs of the books missing plus 10p a day fines? Or just the costs of unpaid fines? As I am an OAP we do not incur fines, but do these books ever get returned, there should be a more stringent follow up procedure, It should be quite simple really, any fines or unreturned books, then no further borrowing until fines and returns are accounted for. Simple!! cockadoodledo
  • Score: 5

9:18am Mon 11 Aug 14

Farsley Bantam says...

Cityman23 wrote:
In the spirit of punning, I would say :

Read them the riot act, give them the strong word, followed by a stiff sentence.
Indeed. What the verse that could happen?
[quote][p][bold]Cityman23[/bold] wrote: In the spirit of punning, I would say : Read them the riot act, give them the strong word, followed by a stiff sentence.[/p][/quote]Indeed. What the verse that could happen? Farsley Bantam
  • Score: -2

9:22am Mon 11 Aug 14

cockadoodledo says...

OLDLAD wrote:
The council and librarians need to grow a spine and stop playing with words. How is so much money owed when libraries are closing? Someone needs to check the books.
Sounds like the staff at the library have got very sloppy, there is plenty at Bingley who just seem to be standing around. Perhaps not enough to do?
A simple smile and a friendly welcome might be a good start!!! then some proper work.
[quote][p][bold]OLDLAD[/bold] wrote: The council and librarians need to grow a spine and stop playing with words. How is so much money owed when libraries are closing? Someone needs to check the books.[/p][/quote]Sounds like the staff at the library have got very sloppy, there is plenty at Bingley who just seem to be standing around. Perhaps not enough to do? A simple smile and a friendly welcome might be a good start!!! then some proper work. cockadoodledo
  • Score: 3

9:55am Mon 11 Aug 14

Joedavid says...

How much are the lost books worth in addition please?
Someone needs to go I'm afraid to say over this, they would last long in private employment.
How much are the lost books worth in addition please? Someone needs to go I'm afraid to say over this, they would last long in private employment. Joedavid
  • Score: 1

9:58am Mon 11 Aug 14

Cityman23 says...

Sounds like some have lost the plot, and are telling stories. We need action to catch these baddies.
Sounds like some have lost the plot, and are telling stories. We need action to catch these baddies. Cityman23
  • Score: 2

10:04am Mon 11 Aug 14

Cityman23 says...

PS: Interesting to read a completely separate 'T& A'
headline to this:

"Book-keeper brought Bradford firm to its knees, with £37,000 theft"

Gosh, that must have been the Domesday book or an original Caxton bible, surely!!!
PS: Interesting to read a completely separate 'T& A' headline to this: "Book-keeper brought Bradford firm to its knees, with £37,000 theft" Gosh, that must have been the Domesday book or an original Caxton bible, surely!!! Cityman23
  • Score: -4

10:33am Mon 11 Aug 14

Cooperlane2 says...

Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders?
Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders? Cooperlane2
  • Score: 8

10:39am Mon 11 Aug 14

Albion. says...

OLDLAD wrote:
Farsley Bantam wrote:
Albion. wrote:
Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?
That's a novel idea.
Good one. But here's a question for albion. Make an offender pay a deposit - most offenders go once and never return. How would you show them as offenders?
Then introduce a deposit scheme where you pay a small amount and it carries on to your next books, providing you have returned the last ones. And you can claim it back any time, provided there are no books left to return.
[quote][p][bold]OLDLAD[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Farsley Bantam[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Albion.[/bold] wrote: Why not make offenders pay a deposit before they take a book?[/p][/quote]That's a novel idea.[/p][/quote]Good one. But here's a question for albion. Make an offender pay a deposit - most offenders go once and never return. How would you show them as offenders?[/p][/quote]Then introduce a deposit scheme where you pay a small amount and it carries on to your next books, providing you have returned the last ones. And you can claim it back any time, provided there are no books left to return. Albion.
  • Score: 7

12:16pm Mon 11 Aug 14

linebacker2 says...

A couple of points

(1) There'll always be a level of outstanding fines. It's when it's a couple of months plus it's an issue.

(2) "Senior citizens" don't get fined at Bradford libraries - even if they're a millionaire and live outside the district.
A couple of points (1) There'll always be a level of outstanding fines. It's when it's a couple of months plus it's an issue. (2) "Senior citizens" don't get fined at Bradford libraries - even if they're a millionaire and live outside the district. linebacker2
  • Score: 3

12:17pm Mon 11 Aug 14

MontyLeMar says...

Cooperlane2 wrote:
Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders?
Correct. Maybe the proof readers should have spent more time in the library? Maybe the TandA have fired them all? Maybe it should read "Borrowers owe a 'staggering' £100,000 in fines to Libraries"? I'll wave the proof reading fee on this occasion. Don't mention it.
[quote][p][bold]Cooperlane2[/bold] wrote: Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders?[/p][/quote]Correct. Maybe the proof readers should have spent more time in the library? Maybe the TandA have fired them all? Maybe it should read "Borrowers owe a 'staggering' £100,000 in fines to Libraries"? I'll wave the proof reading fee on this occasion. Don't mention it. MontyLeMar
  • Score: 0

12:45pm Mon 11 Aug 14

pjl20 says...

Seems to me that an amnesty ought to be declared by Bradford MDC for the users who have incurred library fines.

An amnesty on the borrower, provided the book is returned in good condition, that is.
Seems to me that an amnesty ought to be declared by Bradford MDC for the users who have incurred library fines. An amnesty on the borrower, provided the book is returned in good condition, that is. pjl20
  • Score: 0

1:03pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Robin of Loxley says...

“Libraries only work when people borrow books and take them back.”


'Books' ?

What are they ??
[quote]“Libraries only work when people borrow books and take them back.”[/quote] 'Books' ? What are they ?? Robin of Loxley
  • Score: -3

1:09pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Joedavid says...

Robin of Loxley wrote:
“Libraries only work when people borrow books and take them back.”


'Books' ?

What are they ??
Let us hope they do not start lending the computers out!
[quote][p][bold]Robin of Loxley[/bold] wrote: [quote]“Libraries only work when people borrow books and take them back.”[/quote] 'Books' ? What are they ??[/p][/quote]Let us hope they do not start lending the computers out! Joedavid
  • Score: 0

3:35pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Cityman23 says...

Cooperlane2 wrote:
Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders?
Ah yes, "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton about tiny people who Iive in buildings and 'borrow' what they need to survive. a great story for kids. Hope that isn't one of the books missing!
[quote][p][bold]Cooperlane2[/bold] wrote: Shouldn't the headline be "borrowers" rather than "lenders"? I guess there aren't any proofreaders?[/p][/quote]Ah yes, "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton about tiny people who Iive in buildings and 'borrow' what they need to survive. a great story for kids. Hope that isn't one of the books missing! Cityman23
  • Score: 1

3:56pm Mon 11 Aug 14

YubYub says...

Well they obviously have the borrower's details on the computer system, if it's unpaid add it to their council tax. Obviously doesn't work for those on benefits but it would help to recoup monies. Lock people's accounts when they reach a certain figure so they can't borrow any further books without it being cleared.

As for librarians smiling, yes quite agree with that as well as bringing back posters that actually specify the Dewey class numbers! Mind you, last time I asked a library about Dewey they did look somewhat blank so perhaps need to look it up themselves.
Well they obviously have the borrower's details on the computer system, if it's unpaid add it to their council tax. Obviously doesn't work for those on benefits but it would help to recoup monies. Lock people's accounts when they reach a certain figure so they can't borrow any further books without it being cleared. As for librarians smiling, yes quite agree with that as well as bringing back posters that actually specify the Dewey class numbers! Mind you, last time I asked a library about Dewey they did look somewhat blank so perhaps need to look it up themselves. YubYub
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Mon 11 Aug 14

BierleyBoy says...

Not to worry, council tax can be put up to cover the deficit.

How about paying someone to knock on the door of everyone who has an overdue book, then banning them from using the library system until they pay overdue fees 7 cost of recovering book?

In these days of e-books, charity shops and the like isn't having libraries carrying other than reference & educational books a complete waste?
Not to worry, council tax can be put up to cover the deficit. How about paying someone to knock on the door of everyone who has an overdue book, then banning them from using the library system until they pay overdue fees 7 cost of recovering book? In these days of e-books, charity shops and the like isn't having libraries carrying other than reference & educational books a complete waste? BierleyBoy
  • Score: 0

5:47pm Mon 11 Aug 14

awasteoftime says...

pjl20 wrote:
Seems to me that an amnesty ought to be declared by Bradford MDC for the users who have incurred library fines.

An amnesty on the borrower, provided the book is returned in good condition, that is.
That is the sort of stupid remark that fully explains why this country is in such a mess !. The question to be asked is how on earth did libraries ever get into this mess in the first place, it seems to me someone needs to go and that will save big salary to start with.
Just publish a list on all libraries as to who is offending ie name and shame them. Suspend their cards and read them the riot act.
It makes one wonder how much Council Tax is owing. It seems it is always the honest people who always pay who suffer. I suspect it is much the same with Court fines also. It is time we got much tougher with all people who offend.
[quote][p][bold]pjl20[/bold] wrote: Seems to me that an amnesty ought to be declared by Bradford MDC for the users who have incurred library fines. An amnesty on the borrower, provided the book is returned in good condition, that is.[/p][/quote]That is the sort of stupid remark that fully explains why this country is in such a mess !. The question to be asked is how on earth did libraries ever get into this mess in the first place, it seems to me someone needs to go and that will save big salary to start with. Just publish a list on all libraries as to who is offending ie name and shame them. Suspend their cards and read them the riot act. It makes one wonder how much Council Tax is owing. It seems it is always the honest people who always pay who suffer. I suspect it is much the same with Court fines also. It is time we got much tougher with all people who offend. awasteoftime
  • Score: 4

7:18pm Mon 11 Aug 14

mmmbeefy says...

Wow, this story is shocking.

I didn't know there were still libraries operating in Bradford
Wow, this story is shocking. I didn't know there were still libraries operating in Bradford mmmbeefy
  • Score: -1

7:51pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Robin of Loxley says...

mmmbeefy wrote:
Wow, this story is shocking.

I didn't know there were still libraries operating in Bradford
Unfortunately some people are still living in the 20th century.
[quote][p][bold]mmmbeefy[/bold] wrote: Wow, this story is shocking. I didn't know there were still libraries operating in Bradford[/p][/quote]Unfortunately some people are still living in the 20th century. Robin of Loxley
  • Score: -4

8:15pm Mon 11 Aug 14

ringoh says...

As a one time librarian employed by the West Riding County Council, pre 1974 this organisation did not charge fines but was quite keen on visiting borrowers to recover books when it got to a certain point of time after a series of reminders. This usually resulted in recovery of the books but did involve a certain amount of staff time. What people tend to forget are the additional costs in chasing up overdue books in terms of writing reminders, visiting borrowers, and where necessary taking them to court. In many cases the costs in doing so outweigh the value of the books and this is why WRCC did not pursue them zealously. In 1974 after West Ridng County Libraries ceased to exist, most local authorities introduced fines to ex WRCC libraries and this did not necessarily improve the position. In actual fact once a borrower runs up a certain sum, it is often difficult to get the books returned. Borrowers who did not return books were of course blacklisted and were not therefore able to continue using the library
As a one time librarian employed by the West Riding County Council, pre 1974 this organisation did not charge fines but was quite keen on visiting borrowers to recover books when it got to a certain point of time after a series of reminders. This usually resulted in recovery of the books but did involve a certain amount of staff time. What people tend to forget are the additional costs in chasing up overdue books in terms of writing reminders, visiting borrowers, and where necessary taking them to court. In many cases the costs in doing so outweigh the value of the books and this is why WRCC did not pursue them zealously. In 1974 after West Ridng County Libraries ceased to exist, most local authorities introduced fines to ex WRCC libraries and this did not necessarily improve the position. In actual fact once a borrower runs up a certain sum, it is often difficult to get the books returned. Borrowers who did not return books were of course blacklisted and were not therefore able to continue using the library ringoh
  • Score: 1

8:53pm Mon 11 Aug 14

micela22 says...

add the cost of the book to their council tax, if they pay c.t, if not deduct it from their benefits,
add the cost of the book to their council tax, if they pay c.t, if not deduct it from their benefits, micela22
  • Score: 1

9:27pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Robin of Loxley says...

micela22 wrote:
add the cost of the book to their council tax, if they pay c.t, if not deduct it from their benefits,
Can those on benefits actually read ?

*That's* the question we must all ask ourselves.
[quote][p][bold]micela22[/bold] wrote: add the cost of the book to their council tax, if they pay c.t, if not deduct it from their benefits,[/p][/quote]Can those on benefits actually read ? *That's* the question we must all ask ourselves. Robin of Loxley
  • Score: -3

10:25pm Tue 12 Aug 14

wilsico says...

Stop having a go at the library staff you see on the counter they are doing the best they can under difficult circumstances, if you have actually stepped into a library of late which from the sounds of things a lot of the people commenting here haven't you would understand. I have witnessed so much abuse given to the poor staff when trying to collect fines from customers.
Stop having a go at the library staff you see on the counter they are doing the best they can under difficult circumstances, if you have actually stepped into a library of late which from the sounds of things a lot of the people commenting here haven't you would understand. I have witnessed so much abuse given to the poor staff when trying to collect fines from customers. wilsico
  • Score: 3

4:27pm Wed 13 Aug 14

What?,when?,where? says...

I reckon most of these none returns are actually dvd films and pc games.
I reckon most of these none returns are actually dvd films and pc games. What?,when?,where?
  • Score: 1

6:17am Thu 14 Aug 14

Big Bad Honey Badger says...

If they didn't charge so much in late fees then they wouldn't be owed so much.

I used to go to Wibsey library regularly and one (out of hundreds/thousands of books over 30 year) got lost and the late fees kept getting added on, I offed to pay the cost of the book, they wouldn't accept.

I never paid the fines as they were rediculous, i've avoided the library ever since.
If they didn't charge so much in late fees then they wouldn't be owed so much. I used to go to Wibsey library regularly and one (out of hundreds/thousands of books over 30 year) got lost and the late fees kept getting added on, I offed to pay the cost of the book, they wouldn't accept. I never paid the fines as they were rediculous, i've avoided the library ever since. Big Bad Honey Badger
  • Score: 0

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