Essex County Council owed £350,000 in library fines

Close up of a book being read Image copyright Essex County Council
Image caption A consultation into the future of library services in Essex is currently under way

A textbook which has been overdue for 25 years is one of nearly 200,000 outstanding items from Essex libraries.

Despite the length of time the Open College book has been on loan, Essex County Council said it would only charge a maximum of £7 per item.

In total, the authority is owed £357,346 in library fines.

A spokeswoman said small charges were "difficult to collect", and many users stopped returning to the library once they had overdue items.

An Essex County Council spokeswoman said: "We do contact customers by text, email and letter to remind them about fines and when they come into the library.

"If they fail to settle we will stop library users from borrowing more books, however we find that some customers will not return to the library once when they have overdue books."

A 12-week consultation into the future of libraries in Essex is currently under way with the council saying it wanted an "online 24-7 service" which offered users more choice.

If the proposals go ahead, 25 of its 74 libraries could close with volunteers running a further 18 branches.

Image copyright Julian Osley/
Image caption Essex County Council is owed more than £350,000 in library fines

Some books have been missing from libraries for longer than 25 years. Earlier this year Father Allan's Island by Amy Murray was returned to Stornoway library in Scotland after being overdue since 1982.

Earlier this year, The Adventures of Beowulf by CL Thomson was brought back to Shetland library, in Scotland, in April having been missing since 1975.

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