A 25 year old woman in Bayton, Texas, was taken to court after she did not return overdue library books for seven years. She didn't show up in court and was jailed on contempt of court charges, in addition to the charges for the overdue books. This was on the day before Thanksgiving. Her reason for not returning the books was that they were burned in a fire, which she said her landlord and the fire department could verify. But she never told the library and she did not show up for court.
A detective in the Bayton Police Department said this case is uncommon, but he also added, "It's a part of the deal, part of the agreement that you enter. It's just like anything else. . .you can't take something that doesn't belong to you and just hold onto it."
This is a rather extreme reaction to overdue books, although if you bring up the subject with almost any librarian, they will probably start grinding their teeth before unclamping their jaws and responding in a reasonably civil manner. Library books and materials are returned late everywhere. Usually it's just a matter of forgetting about it, receiving a notice from the library or finding the things yourself, returning the materials and paying a fine. Librarians understand that. When you are busy and the kids are in sports and the dog is at the vet's and your husband has the flu, library books are about the last thing on your mind. But at some point, most people with overdue books return them which makes everyone happy. There is no reason for a librarian to grind their teeth over the run-of-the-mill overdue book.
It's the patrons who have them out for years that cause the angst. It's when someone comes in and says, "What do you mean we owe $112.00 in fines? We couldn't return them, we moved to California! But we're back now. Are you SURE we can't check out?" It's when the library sends overdue notices and gets them back because the person has vanished. It's when a brand new book or DVD or video game gets checked out and apparently the patron thinks it now belongs to them forever. "Cool! The public library is free!"
Yes, you can check the materials out for free. But you can't keep them. They are paid for by the funding entity (city, county, school system) and legally belong to them. Besides, if you check something out and don't bring it back, you can't check anything else out. Think of what you might be missing! And think of what other patrons are missing because you didn't return it.
We appreciate our patrons. The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library is used by a large part of our community and you should know that we are not going to go as far as the library in Bayton, Texas, when books are overdue. (No need to change your name or leave town.) Just keep turning in those things you have checked out so we can keep checking out new things to you. It's what we are here for, what we like to do, what we hope you enjoy, over and over and over.
- The library has a new AWE Literacy Station geared for children aged 2 to 8 years old. (See post.)
- Book signing for author of "The Adventures of Stinkerpup" Isis Grayling on Saturday, June 3, from 2 - 4 p.m.
- Summer Story Hour "Make A Better World" is coming! Beginning Wednesday, June 14th, this seven week program will continue every Wednesday from 10 - 11 a.m. through July 26th. (See post.)
- The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library Board will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the library.
- Are you interested in joining a new Writer's Group? Meetings held on Fridays, at 10:00 a.m. This is for any writer who wishes to meet with other writers. Beginners, experienced, published, unpublished, writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, bloggers - all are welcome.
- Preschool Story Hour is conducted every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. We read books to the children and there is a project every week. It's never too soon to introduce your children to the library!
- Schedule a meeting at the library. Call 445-9711 to get on the calendar in advance. The library stays open until 6:00 P.M., Monday - Saturday, except for Thursday, when it stays open until 9:00 P.M.