LIBRARY users in York were fined more than £50,000 last year for failing to bring their books back on time.

The charges racked up through overdue items at 14 of the city’s facilities, as well as its mobile library service, have been revealed in City of York Council’s accounts for 2010/11.

The fines total came to £53,374, with the lion’s share coming from the late return of books and other items at the York Explore centre in Museum Street, which accounted for £32,860.

A further £5,542 in fines were run up through the Acomb Explore centre, with Haxby Library (£2,701), Tang Hall Library (£2,544) and Clifton Library (£1,478) being next on the list.

Coun Sonja Crisp, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and social inclusion, said: “We have started to roll out wi-fi services in libraries and install self-issue machines, which, after an initial reluctance for users, are going down really well.

“There are record attendances at the York and Acomb Explore centres and we are responding to what people want, while, unlike most councils, we have closed no libraries. But to keep up that standard of service, we have to encourage the timely return of books.

“Issuing fines is the age-old, tried-and-trusted method of doing this, and most people do return items on time, while those who don’t tend not to begrudge paying a fine.

“The money from fines is also reinvested into the library system, rather than being regarded as expected income for the council.”

Books, audiobooks, and language course material can be borrowed from York’s libraries free of charge for three weeks, after which users are charged 15p for each day they are overdue, up to a maximum of £10 per item.

CDs and DVDs cost £1 and £3 respectively to hire for up to three weeks, after which weekly charges are applied.

The accounts also showed DVD rentals and sales of data and technology materials through libraries brought in £16,341.36 during 2010/11, while £16,839 of income was created by hiring out or letting rooms at the York and Acomb Explore centres and Tang Hall Library.