Almost $4000 outstanding in overdue library fines in Ballarat

THE City of Ballarat says it has one of the better public library practices in the Victoria, with documents showing 1091 items currently overdue totalling $3900 in fines.

Data released under Freedom of Information laws show the items were taken out at the Ballarat, Sebastopol and Wendouree libraries, as well as the council’s mobile service.

City of Ballarat people and communities general manager Neville Ivey said the council’s overdue policy was an effective deterrent against people not bringing back items.

A fine of 25 cents per day is charged for each overdue item up to a maximum of $5 per item.

Fines do not kick in until the eighth day an item is overdue.

Mr Ivey said each month the council sends out about 2200 first overdue notices, about 300 second overdue notices and 80 debt collection notices.

“At any given time we have about 28,000 items on loan so this represents about 3.9 per cent of total loans,” said Mr Ivey.

“We find on average that we get back 98 to 99 per cent over a six-week period, especially after a debt collection notice is sent.”

As well as books, the list of overdue item also contains CDs and DVDs. The list goes back six months – one book, My Mum And Dad Make Me Laugh, is still overdue after being taken out on July 6 last year.

Mr Ivey said the City of Ballarat’s process for retrieving overdue items included a reminder notice sent three days before the item was due.

If the item is still out after seven days, the first overdue notice is sent before fines kick in.

When items are 28 days overdue, an invoice is mailed with overdue charges, the cost of the item and processing charges of $5.50.

Debt collection kicks in at 45 days overdue.

People who physically cannot get to the library because of age or disability are not fined for overdue items.

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