LIBRARY visitors across the borough cost Bury Council £20,000 a year by not returning books and other items.
Since 1996, thousands of people have borrowed books, videos, DVDs, tapes and CDs from Bury’s libraries and failed to bring them back, meaning the council has spent £342,653 replacing them — an average of £20,156 a year over a 17-year period.
Parents are the worst offenders, hoarding some children’s books and videos for up to 11 years.
Six cheeky readers have held on to their copy of raunchy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey for almost a year.
The council charges people 15p per item per day for overdue books, excluding over-60s and under-16s.
Overdue videos cost 40p per item per day and overdue CDs, tapes and talking books cost 30p per day, though people with hearing and sight problems are exempt.
Fines are capped at £5 per person.
The council’s leisure representative, Cllr Jane Lewis, said: “I’m not surprised by the figures.
“In most cases, it will be a case of people taking out the books fully intending to return them but then it turns out they don’t, for whatever reason.
“But, at the same time, people may not realise there is actually a cost to it when you add up all the books that need replacing.
“It’s important to point out that some books cost more than others: “A paperback costs a lot less to replace than, say, a series of reference books.”
She added: “One positive is that the problem is decreasing.
“The number of electronic books that people are borrowing using Kindles and other devices is increasing and that reduces the risk to the council.
“Over time, that risk will continue to fall.”
The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Bury Council.
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