Alabama library to enforce jail sentences on overdue books

The director of the Athens-Limestone Public Library says there are $200,000 worth of overdue items

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Saturday 03 September 2016 16:03
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The director of the Athens-Limestone Public Library says there are $200,000 of overdue items
The director of the Athens-Limestone Public Library says there are $200,000 of overdue items

Everyone who has borrowed a book or movie from a library knows the feeling.

The item is overdue – quite overdue – but you simply cannot find the time to return it. You will deal with the fine later, you tell yourself.

But a library in Alabama has warned people they could now go to jail if they fail to return something they have borrowed.

The ordinance mandates fines and even jail time

“The taxpayers expect us to protect their investment,” Paula Laurita, director of the Athens-Limestone Public Library told the News Courier newspaper.

“We make every effort to be good stewards of public funds.”

Ms Laurita said the library was trying to recover around $200,000 worth of overdue materials. As a result, it will enforce a local ordinance that prescribes fines and the possibility of jail time.

Anyone with overdue books will have the chance to return them before the authorities are notified.

The library will first notify borrowers with overdue books via text or email. If that is ignored, a certified letter will be sent, warning they have ten days to hand in their books and pay any fines owed.

If that letter is not acted on, a court summons will be issued, WAAY 31 reported, and ignoring the court summons could result in another fine and jail time.

“Sometimes we hear, ‘I lent my library card to my cousin’,” Ms Laurita said. “I just want to ask, ‘Would you lend your cousin your credit card? If they go and get $700 worth of clothing and you're responsible for the bill, would you do that?’”

She added: “Some may say, ‘It's just a library book’, but what if 300 basketballs went missing from the recrecation centre? We’re not doing this for us. We’re doing it for the community.”

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