Number of bans from libraries doubles in 2020 - despite lengthy closures

The Millennium Library in Norwich

The Millennium Library in Norwich - Credit: Archant

The number of people banned from Norfolk libraries more than doubled in 2020, despite a year of coronavirus lockdowns, figures have revealed.

Last year, 39 people were banned from entering libraries across the county after breaking the rules.

Stalham Library.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Stalham Library - Credit: Archant

The figures, which were obtained following a Freedom of Information request to Norfolk County Council, reveal this has more than doubled since 2019 when 16 people were banned.

Statistics show that eight people were banned from Cromer Library, with a further seven being banned from both Millennium Library in Norwich, and King's Lynn Library.

People were also found breaking the rules in North Walsham, Dersingham, Mile Cross, Swaffham, Wymondham, Hunstanton, Thetford, Aylsham, and Holt Libraries.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: "Our colleagues in the Libraries and Information Service want to ensure that visitors feel safe and secure when they visit. 

"Any unacceptable behaviour or other breaches of the conditions of use of our libraries are taken seriously and staff have to exclude people when it is necessary.”

The county’s libraries closed their doors during the March lockdown and gradually reopened over the course of the summer before closing again in November.

Norfolk County Council has since announced that its 47 libraries, plus mobile libraries, will be closed until further notice due to the ongoing pandemic.

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Norfolk's list of reasons for library bans includes 15 people for anti-social behaviour and 24 for breaching the 'acceptable use agreement'.

Norfolk County Council's libraries all adhere to a set of 26 byelaws which can be found on the council's website, and which fall under section 19 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

While the data does not cite what the 24 breaches were, some of the rules ban people who are "offensively unclean in person or in dress", or who are "suffering from an offensive disease", from entering or using the library.

Once someone is banned from one library, they are prohibited from entering any other that is run by the county council.

A council spokesperson said: "The national library byelaws were created some time ago and adopted locally.

"While we aim to adhere to the byelaws, we acknowledge they need to be interpreted for the 21st century."

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