A ONE month amnesty on overdue books is starting at libraries in Sunderland.
From Wednesday 1 February (tomorrow), borrowers will no longer be asked to pay a fine on any late books brought back to city libraries. The February amnesty includes any historic fines.
The City Council is beginning the Fine Free February amnesty to help encourage more people to visit their local library and borrow books – and return any overdue ones.
The amnesty complements the city’s warm places scheme where residents are invited to use libraries and local centres as safe and warm places this winter.
Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, Councillor Linda Williams said: “As a council we are always looking to assist and help residents wherever we can, and this is especially so in the current economic climate.
“We are already promoting and making residents aware of how our libraries are warm spaces for people to spend time in. Now is also good time to remove our library fines and offer a little extra help for residents.
“It’s a reminder, too, that people who have not been to the library recently can, of course, as well as borrow books, access so much more whether it’s researching their family history, taking part in Time for Rhyme sessions or even accessing a wealth of E-Services, there is something for all ages.”
More information about city libraries is at: Libraries – Sunderland City Council
Last year, there were nearly 160,000 loans from City Libraries and lending figures are returning to pre-pandemic levels with around 15,000 items now borrowed every month.
Borrowers can also access E-books and E-audiobooks, and E-magazines have recently been added to the BorrowBox App which is available to library members.
Cllr Williams added:
“Libraries are very important to our communities and some people might have lost the habit of visiting their library during the pandemic, and they may have some overdue books. We do know and understand that it’s been difficult for everyone and that’s another reason why we’re having the amnesty and there could very well be another borrower who is interested in the books that are returned.
“The amnesty is one more good reason to visit your local library.”
Sunderland libraries did not levy loan fines during the Covid 19 lockdowns and, before the pandemic, around £5,000 was collected annually from overdue books.
As part of its commitment and investment in libraries, the City Council is preparing refurbishment and improvements works at both Houghton and Washington libraries.