He Took Out 262 Library Books a Month —and Was Fictional

Library scheme sought to 'save' books
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2017 11:15 AM CST
He Took Out 262 Library Books a Month —and Was Fictional
A visitor browses at James Branch Cabell library in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Sorrento, Fla., is not home to the country's most avid reader, though it would appear that way based on the East Lake County Library's records. They show that a man by the name of Chuck Finley checked out 2,361 books over a nine-month period last year, including some he apparently sped through and returned the same hour he checked them out, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Impressive, right? Er, not so much. In reality, Finley—reportedly named after the former Los Angeles Angels pitcher of the same name—was as fictional as the characters in those books, invented by branch supervisor George Dore and library assistant Scott Amey, who gave him a fake address and driver's license number. The reason: to "save" books.

After the county inspector general's office was tipped off about the scheme, Dore reportedly explained that libraries are told to get rid of books that remain untouched on shelves for lengthy periods, and sometimes have to repurchase them later when demand picks up. To avoid such a hassle, many libraries use "'dummy’ patron cards" to check the books out, Dore told investigators. Amey was disciplined, but the inspector general's office has recommended that Dore be dismissed over what Atlas Obscura labels the "dork misdeed of the year." It also points out that Finley could have been named after a character's alias in the espionage TV series Burn Notice, though the investigator's notes suggest it was the ball player. (More Florida stories.)

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