8-yr-old threatened with debt collectors for overdue library book

An eight-year-old boy was left in tears after being sent a letter threatening him with the debt collectors over an overdue library book.

Jamie Rogers had borrowed a book called ‘A Very Fishy Battle’ by author Jeremy Strong from the Central Library in Bromley, south east London, over the summer holidays. Little Jamie and his brother Kai, six, had borrowed a string of books from the council-run library after taking part in a campaign to get kids reading during the school break.

But after forgetting to return just one book, a letter was sent out addressed to him telling him that he should contact the library immediately or be referred to a ‘debt collection service’.

Jamie’s mum Michelle, 38, of Orpington said her son burst into tears when he opened the letter – and was terrified he would be arrested by the police and hauled before a court.

…She said: “I was horrified. “What is the world coming to when you have to threaten an eight-year-old for an overdue library book..?

Surely a gentle reminder that a book has been out for a while might be sufficient, instead of a threatening letter of this manner…”

A spokesman for Bromley Council said the letter was incorrectly addressed to the eight-year-old and that its library does not charge children late return fees.

The spokesman added: “…”Children’s books are not charged overdue fees but we have a duty to ensure that books are available for everyone after their initial loan period, blah-blah-blah.”

Yes, I added the “blah-blah-blah”. Lower-level petty bureaucrats who don’t get it are part of the whole process of separating service facilities in practice from the people they were chartered to serve.

I hope local users of the Central Library in Bromley, London SE, take the time to discuss procedures, budgets, the intent and function of libraries with folks responsible for running the library. Blah-blah-blah!