Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham's 145,000 overdue library books

View of Library of Birmingham from the amphitheatre
Image caption Birmingham City Council said it had stopped buying books for some of its 38 sites

Books borrowed more than 20 years ago are among tens of thousands overdue from Birmingham's libraries.

A total of 145,671 overdue books have stacked up fines of £422,930 since 1995, according to council figures.

The unreturned books make up more than 7% of the 1,984,954 literary works owned by the authority.

A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman said the figure represented a "snapshot for the number overdue at a specific date".

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Library staff appealed for donations last August after the council stopped buying books for some of its 38 sites amid cuts.

Libraries, adult education and early years services could share buildings in the future as the Labour-led authority looks to save £90m in the next financial year and £250m over the next four years.

The proposed budget would see £250,000 cut from arts and culture in 2017-18.

The funding would drop by £500,000 in 2018-19 and another £500,000 in 2019-20.

Thousands of library books missing


fines due to Birmingham libraries


books overdue

  • £31,357,000 libraries budget

  • 1,984,954 books owned by council

  • 28 April 1995 is when the 10 most overdue books should have gone back


The 10 longest overdue library books were borrowed on 31 March 1995 and were due for return on 28 April 1995.

Notices were sent out to the two people who had borrowed five books each.

But the letters came back with "not known at the address" notices.

They were referred to the book recovery officer to locate the books - so far to no avail.

10 longest overdue library books

  • Star Wreck II Attack of the Jargonites: An Interplanetary Parody
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
  • A Kind of Loving
  • The Watchers on the Shore
  • The Snow Fairy and the Spaceman
  • The Sun, The Moon and the Silver Baboon
  • Farmer Duck
  • The Babies of Cockle Bay
  • Prince Cinders
  • Mr Gumpy's Outing

The council issues two overdue notices - the first two weeks and the second four weeks after the return date.

People who fail to return books or pay fines are banned from borrowing further items.

The maximum possible overdue fine on a book loaned from the library is £3, or £1.50 for concessions, after 20 days.

A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman said: "While a very small proportion of books have been overdue for a lengthy period (in the hundreds), the vast majority of the 145,671 will have been overdue for a short period and many may now have been returned. The figure is a snapshot for the number overdue at a specific date."

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