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Norfolk's most overdue library book revealed as borrowers rack up £740,000 in fines

The Millennium Library in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

The Millennium Library in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

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People in Norfolk have paid more than half a million in library fines over the past four years - and almost 50,000 books, CDs and DVDs have never been returned, new figures have revealed.

And a Freedom of Information request to Norfolk County Council also revealed the name of the most overdue book in the county - Paint Fun by Ray Gibson, borrowed in July 1999 and yet to be returned.

The figures showed that, between 2015 and November last year, £744,000 fines were issued for overdue items which had been borrowed from Norfolk’s 47 libraries.

Over the same period, £565,000 in overdue fines were paid to the library service.

Charges to adults for overdue items range from 10p for one day up to £6.60 (the maximum charge) for an item which is seven weeks late. There are separate charges for lost items.

Paint Fun, by Ray Gibson, was borrowed from a Norfolk library in 1997 and has yet to be returned. Pic: Amazon.Paint Fun, by Ray Gibson, was borrowed from a Norfolk library in 1997 and has yet to be returned. Pic: Amazon.

More than 45,000 items between 2015 and the end of 2018 were not returned.

a Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “Overdue charges are an incentive for returning borrowed items on time and the income received is part of the library service’s annual budget.

“Over the past three years the majority of money owed to us has been recovered and we expect the introduction of online payments this year will make it even easier for people to pay us back.”

Some councils have used bailiffs to chase up people who owe money, but County Hall has not resorted to such tactics.

The spokesman said: “We have not considered using a debt recovery service as the costs of recovering individual debts would exceed the amount owed and would have a detrimental impact on our relationship with customers.

“Library users can pay in instalments and our experience has shown that if people continue to use our service we are more likely to recover the amount owed in the long term.

“We want people to get in touch with their local library if they are having trouble paying their overdue charges as we want to encourage people to continue to use the library. Overdue charges are rarely as high as people fear.”

In Suffolk, the fines levied between January and mid November last year were £96,759 and, as of mid November, £64,640 of them had been paid.

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