Libraries in North Yorkshire have collected 35 per cent less in fines for this financial year compared to three years ago, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
Although more than £500,000 has been collected by libraries in North Yorkshire since the 2010/11 financial year, Harrogate, Ripon, Knaresborough and Starbeck Library are all collecting less than they did three years ago.
We have been concerned for some time by the future of income for libraries and are always seeking news ways of increasing our income.Chrys Mellor
Harrogate Library collected £24,945 in fines in 2011/12, almost 20 per cent of the total amount in North Yorkshire libraries for the year, however this has fallen by a quarter in this financial year to £18,630.
The biggest drop in collected fines was at Ripon library where they collected almost 40 per cent less this year than they did in 2010/11.
North Yorkshire’s General Manager of Libraries, Chrys Mellor, admitted that new ways of increasing income were being sought on the back of the fall in library fines but stressed the figures did not necessarily reflect a decline in the use of services.
She said: “We have been concerned for some time by the future of income for libraries and are always seeking news ways of increasing our income.
“Any money we raise is part of our budget and that comes back into libraries to be spent on them. However, our overall income has not dropped as we have found different methods of generating income.
“The figures don’t necessarily mean that people are using the libraries less but over the years there has been a decline in the number of visits to libraries in North Yorkshire.
“That decline is 13 per cent in four years but nationally the decline is 20 per cent.”
Ms Mellor suggested that the fall in the amount of fines collected could be due to the fact more people are renewing their books online. This growth in the use of online services is also reflected in the surge of the use of E-books.
She said: “The introduction of online services is to free staff up to deal with developing and arranging library activities and helping people who are coming through the doors.
“There has been a 230 per cent rise in the use of E-books in our libraries and they do count in our issue figures and it’s a service people expect.”