Fine amnesty for Edinburgh library users with books loaned out pre-pandemic

Most of Edinburgh's libraries have reopened.Most of Edinburgh's libraries have reopened.
Most of Edinburgh's libraries have reopened.
With most libraries across Edinburgh reopening after months of Covid restrictions, fear not if you are worried about incurring a massive fine from a pre-pandemic book loan.

Books can be returned anonymously and people will not be charged any overdue fines, and anyone with charges on their library card from before the pandemic is being asked to speak to a staff member who can clear them.

Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities vice convener for Edinburgh City Council, said: “We all know how cherished our libraries are and their role as community hubs cannot be underestimated. With careful planning we’ve been able to open them safely on a phased basis and thanks must go to our library and cleaning teams who worked tirelessly to achieve this.

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“I’m pleased we’ve also agreed to extend loan periods for any books that have been borrowed since before the pandemic began last year so there will be no fines incurred.”

In July, a book was returned to Paisley Central Library more than 50 years after it was due back. The copy of Mrs Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery was posted to the library anonymously with a £20 note and a letter apologising for its lateness.

The book was loaned out in about 1968 although it is unclear who borrowed it as lending records from the time are no longer available. Paisley Central Library said returning the book was a “lovely gesture.”

Details of Edinburgh City Council’s library fine amnesty were emailed to library users this week along with an updated list of which branches across the city have reopened.

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Initially, services will be restricted with numbers within buildings being limited and social distancing measures in place. Face coverings are mandatory in libraries.

Customers over the age of 12 will need to book a slot online or by phoning one of the open branches to browse and borrow books, join the library, use a public computer, book a study space (Central Library, reference library only), apply for a bus pass or to collect hearing aid batteries.

However, there is no need to book slots to return books.

NHS Lothian is also using some of the council’s libraries as community Covid-19 test centres. It means Leith Library, Newington Library, Sighthill Library at Gate 55 and Oxgangs Library will not be open until the end of October for this reason.

The council is working on getting other libraries open safely and the public will be informed when they are.

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Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities convener, said: “Our libraries are invaluable resources for local communities and we have fought hard to get them open after the pandemic.

"Most of them have opened their doors once more and although some are still closed while they are being used as Covid-19 test centres they will be returned to their normal use as soon as possible. “We even have plans to open in some new locations and also extend the range of services available and our opening hours. We are actively recruiting new library staff and our ambition is to come back stronger than ever. This will mean as many people as possible can take advantage of all that these much-loved buildings offer. Library staff have gone above and beyond in a monumental effort and they deserve our thanks.”

Edinburgh libraries now open

Balgreen Library

Blackhall Library

Central Library (art and design, children’s, Edinburgh and Scottish and music departments open for browsing and borrowing/ reference library for study space and PC access)

Colinton Library

Craigmillar Library

Currie Library

Drumbrae Library

Fountainbridge Library

Gilmerton Library

Kirkliston Library

McDonald Road Library

Moredun Library

Morningside Library

Piershill Library

Portobello Library

A mobile library at Ratho

South Queensferry Library

Stockbridge Library

Wester Hailes Library

Details on individual library opening times can be found HERE.

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