Children with overdue library books will have to pay fines

Posted On 13 Jan 2017 at 11:31 am

Children who return their books late to libraries in Brighton and Hove will have to pay a fine from the spring.

The decision was made as part of a plan to make up a budget shortfall of almost £50,000, members of Brighton and Hove City Council were told yesterday (Thursday 12 January).

But the fine will be 10p a day up to a maximum of £2.50, with vulnerable children exempt and staff given the discretion to waive fines in special circumstances such as illness.

Children have not had to pay fines since 2008 and under the new regime they will be sent reminder emails or text messages before their books are due back.

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Charges will also rise for printing and photocopying and for reserving books. And reservations will have to be paid for in advance from April.

Councillors were astonished to hear that an inter-library loan can cost the council £18.15. When it’s cheaper, staff try to purchase the requested book even if it’s out of print and it means searching secondhand book websites.

Councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, said: “Each time a residents requests a reservation it costs the council, and therefore the taxpayer, money.

“When items are then cancelled it means a financial loss to the council. It makes sense that if someone wants to reserve something they pay in advance and that way the council doesn’t lose out if the item is no longer needed.”

The five Conservative and Green opposition councillors tried to block the overdue fines for children and young people up to 19 years old.

But the five Labour councillors voted in favour and Councillor Robins used his casting vote to pass the change.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I have written something about the confusing way in which the Report was written. As it stands, it seemed that there would be a free Basic “suggest a purchase” of a book (but neither a notification or a reservation of this) and an actual Reservation at, er, £7 (the same as an inter-Library loan). However, it transpires that Reservations can still be made in libraries for £1 (now payable in advance). This Report to the Committee yesterday certainly needs clarification. Here is the link to more on this.

  2. Al Bion-Street Reply

    By what criteria will children be deemed “vulnerable”? Surely a child is, by definition, vulnerable.

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