The cost of unreturned books and items borrowed from libraries could pay to run a Weymouth Library for more than a year.

Almost £50,000 is owed in outstanding fines for unreturned books, DVDs and other items borrowed from Dorset libraries.

As of June 1, 2018, £47,670.18 was owed to Dorset County Council for outstanding fines at 25 council libraries and eight community managed libraries.

The monies owed could keep the doors at Wyke Regis Library open for more than a year - which had a running cost of £41,294 for the last year.

Between January 2017 and June 2018, Weymouth Library accrued more than £12,000 in fines and Dorchester Library more than £14,000.

The majority of these fines were for unreturned books which accounted for £10,838 of fines at Weymouth and £10,990 at Dorchester.

The figures include the value of any books and other items that are regarded as being "very overdue" and a charge has been placed on the customer’s account for the replacement value of these overdue items.

Tracy McGregor, Dorset County Council’s early help and library services manager said: "There are nearly 70,000 people across Dorset who have used their library card in the past year with over 1.5 million items loaned from Dorset Libraries.

"The majority of these people borrow and return items on time however, some people are late in returning items and do not pay these charges at the time of return.

"The total amount of charges owed is mainly made up of a large number of low value individual sums. There are lots of ways that customers can avoid paying charges by renewing items online or at any library and we also can send reminders by email or text."

"There is a process in place to help us recover overdue items with notices being sent to customers and after a period of time, they will be unable to continue to use the library until any monies or items owed are reduced or returned."

Library users are charged 20p a day for overdue books. The maximum charge for overdue library books is £9.

People are able to renew books and other items online, via phone or in person at their local library.

In 2011 the council voted to withdraw core funding from libraries in Wool, Corfe Castle, Colehill, Stalbridge, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Chickerell, Puddletown and Portland Underhill and in 2012 Portland Underhill closed its doors.

The remaining eight libraries became community-run libraries after members of the public stepped in to keep the doors open.