Have You Got An Overdue Library Book On Your Shelf?

Ladybird’s ‘Busy Little Postman’ was due back 18th July 2005 but is still 'on loan'

A parent who borrowed a childrens’ book from a Wandsworth library in 2005 and never returned it has helped land taxpayers with a £370,000 book replacement bill. The parent was due to return Ladybird’s ‘Busy Little Postman’ by Karen King on July 18, 2005 – but unlike the little postman in the story they failed to deliver it back.

Based on current records it is the longest overdue of the more than 45,000 books borrowed from the borough’s libraries and never returned. The cost of replacing all of these missing books is just a few pounds shy of £370,000. This is money that could otherwise have been spent on expanding book stocks or paying for new computers and other library improvements.

Community services spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “At a time when the public finances are under such extreme pressure and councils in particular are facing real challenges in managing their budgets, having to find money to replace unreturned books is a major headache.

“This is an expense to the public purse that could easily be avoided if only people brought their library books back.

“I would like to appeal to borrowers who have overdue books at home to please return them. This simple act of community spirit will save public money and ensure other people, especially children, won’t have to miss out on the pleasure of reading these missing books.”

Nearly £500,000 a year is spent on purchasing new books for the borough’s network of 11 libraries. This has helped Wandsworth achieve one of the highest loan ratios in the capital, while customer surveys also show that the borough’s libraries have some of the highest satisfaction ratings in London.

Last year the council transferred the day-to-day management of its network of libraries to a charitable social enterprise. This change in the back office arrangements is saving the borough’s council tax payers nearly £900,000 in running costs every year and has meant that none of Wandsworth’s libraries have had to close. This is in stark contrast to many other London boroughs who have not yet embraced this type of management model and instead been forced to close their local libraries.

Wandsworth’s libraries provide popular community facilities for local residents including a wide range of books, CDs and DVDs, excellent IT facilities and free Wifi, alongside a profusion of activities such as messy mornings and rhyme times for children, reading groups and knit and natter sessions for adults.

For more information on the borough’s libraries visit
www.wandsworth.gov.uk/libraries or www.better.org.uk/areas/wandsworth

December 4, 2014