The staggering scale of thefts from Welsh municipal libraries has
been revealed with books worth £600,000 having gone missing in just the
last two years.
Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales Central Chris Franks discovered more
than 100,000 books had been stolen or not returned after writing to all
Welsh local authorities. He is now demanding action to reduce losses,
including a books amnesty.
Some councils also revealed the authors whose books were stolen/not
returned the most. They include Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Roald
Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson.
Unsurprisingly as the biggest authority Cardiff has suffered the
worst losses during 2006-07 and 2007-08 losing 17,160 books, worth
£136,000 – more than £1,000 A WEEK. The authority also collected more
than £150,000 in fines on items returned late.
In Wrexham 74 health books were not returned in 2006-07 and 68
copies in 2007-08. Forty one copies of books by children’s author
Jacqueline Wilson were stolen or not returned over the same period.
Plaid Cymru AM Mr Franks said today: “The losses incurred by libraries across Wales are frankly staggering.
“I’m appalled that borrowers are either stealing or not returning
books but I also believe that all local authorities urgently need to
look at their systems and ways of reducing thefts.
“These thefts are a huge drain on the public purse, particularly at
a time when money is tight. This is money which could otherwise perhaps
be used to improve facilities for library users such as greater
“I believe that all local authorities should look at a books amnesty allowing users to return books without paying hefty fines.
“I am also staggered that several authorities did not have
information on the extent of thefts readily available at the touch of a
button,” added Mr Franks.
He is also writing to the Culture Minister Alun Ffred Jones drawing his attention to the issue.