Library Could Start Jailing People for Overdue Books

'We're doing it for the community'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2016 4:20 PM CDT
Library Could Start Jailing People for Overdue Books
   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

One Alabama library isn't messing around when it comes to overdue books. The News Courier reports the Athens-Limestone Public Library is going to start taking advantage of an old city ordinance that could lead to jail time for people who don't return their copy of Harry Potter. Library director Paula Laurita tells WAAY some people have "several hundred dollars worth" of overdue books. The library tried to work with library patrons to get its materials back, but that apparently wasn't successful, as it's currently owed about $200,000 in overdue books. City ordinance 93-1157 is the library's next step to get its stuff back.

People with overdue books will get a text or email from the library. If they still don't return the books, they'll get a letter informing them they have 10 days to do so. After that, they get a court summons and face a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Laurita says extreme measures are justified because people who don't return books are stealing from taxpayers. "Some may say, 'It's just a library book,' but what if 300 basketballs went missing from the rec center? We're not doing this for us; we're doing it for the community," Laurita tells the News Courier. The city's chief of police says they have arrested people in the past for overdue books, but "it's been a good long while." (Read more overdue book stories.)

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