Thurrock Libraries launched a book amnesty this week, giving residents with overdue library books the opportunity to return them to any library before Friday 24 March and pay no late fees.
Upon returning the items, all late fees will be removed and the individual's account reopened so they can borrow further items in the future.
Cllr Qaisar Abbas, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, said: "Whilst books and other library items are sometimes enjoyed by residents beyond their initial loan period, sadly a large number of these items are not returned, and at great expense to our library service.
"The amnesty offers our residents the opportunity to drop-off any overdue items into a Thurrock library, no matter how long they’ve had them. Library staff will be on hand to help with returns, or the self-checkout machines can be used to drop items off anonymously."
The initiative takes place ahead of a new fees and charges policy coming into effect from 1 April 2023 that will introduce an ‘assumed lost’ fee. This new fee will apply to all library items loaned after this date that are not returned within a specific time period of between 35 and 150 days, depending on the item.
Cllr Abbas continued: "We are following neighbouring local authorities and members of The Libraries Consortium (TLC) in introducing an updated policy that not only supports the recovery of library items, but ensures items are quickly available for others in the community to enjoy.
"The policy also ensures we can provide a stronger library service offer where customers are not waiting for weeks or months for items that are unlikely to be returned. I encourage anyone with overdue library items to drop them into their local library over the coming weeks and help support learning for generations to come in Thurrock."
Find out more about Thurrock libraries at thurrock.gov.uk/libraries.