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Thousands of items returned to City libraries

More than 13 000 outstanding library items were returned to the City of Cape Town’s libraries during two fine-free weeks.

These 13 400 items were valued at R2.7m.

In a statement, the City’s Mayco member for social services among others, JP Smith, says librarians were determined to leave no page unturned in an attempt to ensure that patrons were able to return overdue items. “This year patrons had two opportunities to return their blacklisted and overdue items as there was a fine-free week in each half of the year. This meant they could bring back books, study guides and DVDs that are long overdue at the City’s libraries.”

Blacklisted items are those that are overdue for longer than three months.

The first fine-free week coincided with South African Library Week in March when 6 067 items with a replacement value of about R1.2m were returned. Of these, 2319 were blacklisted items.

“Early in September, there was another opportunity to return overdue and blacklisted material during National Book Week. This time, 7 365 items with a replacement value of just under R1.5m were returned. Of these only 972 were blacklisted.

“The fines linked to the total number of 13 432 returned items amounted to just more than R157 000 and this was written off,” explains Smith.

He says patrons are sent an automated SMS via the library management system three days before items are due, as a courtesy reminder.

Once material becomes overdue, librarians will call patrons in an effort to have the material returned.

“This is very time consuming and impacts on service delivery to other library patrons. Every single item costs money and deprives another patron of the joy of using it. Libraries try to keep their losses to a minimum, but if each of our more than 300 000 patrons decides not to return one item, our library collections will become depleted, robbing communities of the benefit of using the library material provided.

“Some books or movies are so much fun that you want to read it or watch it again and patrons can renew an item in person or by telephone. Keeping an item that belongs to the library deprives others of accessing it and I’d like to appeal to those who still have other overdue library material to please return it,” says Smith.

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