Library books returned - after 35 years

SCORES of borrowers have returned more than 700 overdue books to libraries in Suffolk - including two signed out 35 years ago.

Simon Tomlinson

SCORES of borrowers have returned more than 700 overdue books to libraries in Suffolk - including two signed out 35 years ago.

They were encouraged to come forward last week when Suffolk County Council held an amnesty during which all fines were wiped clean.

Desperate to clear their arrears, some people were found eagerly waiting on the doorstep of the County Library in Ipswich on the first day.


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One lady was reported to have broken down in tears with relief after finally getting rid of her debt, while another was able to kiss goodbye to a �100 fine after her books were destroyed in a fire.

Officials said the amnesty was also effective in enticing stay-away customers back to their libraries.

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Among the oldest books to be returned were two taken out of Westbourne Library in Ipswich in 1974 - Historical Costumes of England 1066-1968 and Historical Anthology of Music.

Charmian Keeble, who works at the Sherrington Road library, said: “The gentleman came in and said his wife had asked him to return it. They were 35 years overdue! We were quite excited to see them actually.

“I remember the label in one of the book from my time working here in the 1960s.

“The amnesty has been very productive and we hope those people will come back again. One lady was in tears because she hadn't wanted to come into the library because she owed so much money.”

A Mills & Boon novel also proved a real page-turner as it was finally brought back to Chantry Library after 16 years.

Sudbury Library was re-united with four books from a customer who had been sent a bill of replacement for �52.

Roger McMaster, head of Suffolk Libraries and Record Office, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the response we received to our libraries amnesty.

“Not only is it wonderful to have back an estimated 750 overdue items, but it has also been a great opportunity for us to welcome previous library users to the service once again.

“So much has changed in Suffolk libraries over the last few years that we are confident returning members will be overwhelmed with the wide range of items now available to borrow and the huge variety of activities taking place.”

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