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Alabama Library Threatening Jail Time for Overdue Books

By September 4, 2016Libraries, News

While jail time for overdue books seems incredibly harsh, one Alabama Library has defended its decision to make not returning books promptly a crime. The Athens-Limestone Public Library has about $200,000 worth of overdue material out and now they are taking the bull by the horns by threatening jail time for those who don’t return books!

The Alabama Library is enforcing a city ordinance that says it is against the law to ‘fail or refuse to return’ borrowed materials. This action will mean that anyone who does not return overdue books could face a fine of up to $100 and/or a 30-day spell behind bars.

It may seem incredibly harsh but the library says it’s worth it. The library director explains the decision by saying “The taxpayers expect us to protect their investment, we make every effort to be good stewards of public funds. The library also wants people in the community to understand this is a serious matter and not act as though the things they borrow from the library have no value.”

The library says it isn’t completely heartless and won’t just be throwing people in jail for being a day late with library books, fines also won’t apply to minors. Firstly the library will contact you in an effort to get the materials and borrowed books back, and only if this fails will they invoke the law.

Thankfully this practice isn’t to be rolled out across America, or even Alabama… yet! However, it isn’t only this library enforcing this rule, we’ve heard of people from Texas, and Ohio also threatened with jail for library fines! At least with a love of reading they’ll be able to make their time count!

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One Comment

  • The frustrated worker says:

    As a librarian I can say that my library does this as well, though not such extensive as 30 days in jail. It is so incredibly frustrating when people take out dvds (which are checked out for a week and can be renewed 4 times) and never bring them back. Sometimes we can have people check them out in January and bring them back in June and expect to not pay any kind of fine. Books are worse yet. People will take them out and then they will get ruined and they expect us to take back a ruined book, or even tell us that they lost 5 books but refuse to pay for them. Being a small town library people forget that their taxes that go to the library don’t go to us. In my area at least the taxes that are collected for the county go to the county library. This means that the other 7 libraries in the county depend on donations and grants. When people refuse to help and steal our things it makes it almost impossible to stay open. There are two of us working and we will call multiple times only to have people lie to us saying they will be in later in the week. What else is a library to do?

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