Borough libraries are owed £55,000
July 05, 2011
Libraries in Wokingham are owed more than £55,000 in outstanding libraries fines.
A total of £55,436 was owed to the 10 libraries within the Wokingham borough as of Friday, June 17, and 188 items were missing from library stock.
But Richard Alexander, libraries and information manager, said the money was not a hole in the budget but rather payment which would be reclaimed.
He said: “To be honest it’s not really missing as such, it is in arrears.
“If people do not have money to pay they will pay that next time and broadly speaking most of them do.
“Generally it’s just things being paid a few weeks in arrears which looks like a big figure.”
The total money owed includes items which have been renewed online or by phone when overdue meaning the money may be collected on the next visit to the library.
Earlier this year Wokingham Borough Council approved plans to tender for a private company to run the borough’s libraries in a bid to save £170,000 a year.
Mr Alexander said the money owed in arrears would be taken over by the new management company along with books which were already out on loan.
He said: “Just like we would not expect everyone to return the book they have we accept that the service has to keep running on a day to day basis.
“I know Surrey recently were in the papers for having £100,000 outstanding in over due charges. Our position is fairly standard for a library service.
“I think the real issue is where you have got tens of thousands that is not going to be recovered through the day to day running which is not the case for us.”
Mr Alexander said the vast majority of fines would be two or three months old but he said action was taken where fines were extending into lengthy periods.
He said: “If someone owes £10 but they do not make any effort to pay we ask if they might like to consider paying it. If people continue to owe us money we are not going to let them build up two sets of charges.
“But if someone owes huge sums of money and have difficulties we may consider letting them pay in instalments.
“But we would expect to see their couple of quid before they take a book out.”
The libraries also had 188 items recorded as missing from their stock but Mr Alexander said it was a small proportion of the total library stock which is made up of more than 200,000 items.
He said: “A service like Love Film has a two per cent loss a year. We have got 188 books out of well over 200,000.
“Some of those could be that someone has taken them off the shelf and filed them in the wrong place so we have recorded it as missing but it is later found.”
Mr Alexander said some of the missing items could be things which have been stolen but he said there was little point as it was free to check them out as a library member.