The council has been accused of “making a quick buck” from the borough’s readers after raking in more than £100,000 in library fines.

Residents returning volumes late or losing them were fined a total of £105,520 by public libraries in Wandsworth last year, figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

More than 14,000 readers were stung by penalty charges this year, while in 2007 more than 15,000 readers clocked up fines of £115,467.

Mark Wallace, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the fines added up to “a massive amount of money to squeeze out of library users”.

He said: “It’s important that any library fines should be about the good running of the service, not about generating revenue.

“It doesn’t send a very good message to people who go to the library. It’s all about how to make a quick buck for the council.”

Mr Wallace pointed out that heavy penalties were unlikely to encourage youngsters to read more, although under-16s are exempt, as are pensioners.

A spokesman for the council said the fines, which are capped at £7.50, go back into running the libraries, which spend over £750,000 annually on books.

He said: "It is only right that people who damage, steal or lose books or who do not return them on time and deprive other library users, should face some form of financial penalty.

"It is surprising that the TaxPayers’ Alliance would rather the burden for replacing lost and stolen books falls on all taxpayers, rather than those individuals who are actually responsible for those losses."

Debbie O’Mahony, a library user who lives in Nimrod Road, Furzedown, added: “I have been fined by the library in the past and it was entirely my own fault. I completely forgot to renew the books.

“I have nothing against the fines. But I hope that the money is used to improve the facilities for the libraries.”

The council’s library and heritage service is working on the modernisation of Tooting library and has a net budget of almost £7.5m per year.