Library prices up to plug gap

gap: Mike Calvert
gap: Mike Calvert
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Charges for borrowing some items from Lancashire libraries have increased fivefold to plug a gap in the amount raised in late fees and budget cuts.

But Lancashire County Council bosses have also vowed to open libraries longer, including weekends, to make them more accessible for people.

A review of library services recommended a series of price inceases, including raising the cost of hiring orchestral sets from £5 to £20 and play set hire from £2 to £10 per set.

Charges for overdue items has increased from 11p to 15p and a £1 charge has been introduced for the loan of language sets.

But the age at which people will have to pay overdue fines and charges has been increased from 16 to 18 and the cost of children’s DVDs has been halved from £2.

A report which was presented to County Coun Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, said fewer late fees were at the heart of a funding gap.

It read: “The context for reviewing these fees and charges is that all cultural services are experiencing a reduction in income from traditional sources such as overdue charges due to technology and service improvements and additionally is taking a significant reduction in revenue budget as part of the efficiency savings plan.”

The amount it has raised has raised from fines has decreased from £271 per 1,000 head of population in 2007 to £170 in 2011.

But Coun Calvert said he is also hoping to extend library opening hours after a successful recent trial using volunteers.

He said: “In Pendle volunteers came forward and if we can make sure they are responsible for manning it at certain times and using the self service, as well as borrowing more books at a time, we think we can extend the opening times.”