Lancashire County Council is reminding people that they don’t need to make a special visit to the library to return books, as fines have been suspended to support the current lockdown.
Library staff are finding that many people are visiting their local library unnecessarily, unaware that they will face no penalty for holding onto any books they’ve borrowed for now.
All libraries are currently closed for browsing, and are only open for essential use of computers, photocopying, printing or collecting pre-reserved books at the door.
Digital library services have seen a huge increase in demand over recent months, with many people avoiding the need to leave home by borrowing eBooks and eAudiobooks.
County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “All our libraries have an outside container for people to return books, however staff are finding that many people are not aware that fines for having books overdue have been suspended and have often made a special visit to bring their books back.
“A lot of the time these are older vulnerable people, and I wouldn’t want anyone to put themselves at risk of catching coronavirus, or slipping on the ice, just to avoid a fine on their library books when they don’t need to and could have stayed at home.”
The council is also keen to remind people that use of library computers, printers and photocopiers during lockdown should be limited to essential purposes, such as education, applying for jobs or benefits, and accessing legal documents.
County Councillor Buckley added: “The purpose of the current lockdown is to prevent the spread of the virus by minimising contact between people, and I’d ask people to respect this when they think about visiting our libraries.
“We’re very grateful to our staff for ensuring that libraries can continue to offer essential services, however they are relying on everyone who visits to minimise any risk to them by considering whether they really need to visit, and observing social distancing if they do. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you should of course be isolating.”
A wide variety of resources are available through the council’s digital library, such as eBooks, audiobooks, newspapers, comics and magazines. While there are currently no fines for having books overdue, you can still renew books online, or by calling 0300 123 6704.
You can find out more about all of Lancashire’s libraries and archives services at lancashire.gov.uk/libraries.