Overdue library books? You’re under arrest!
Mikala Reiswig, Glass Half FullThere was a recent story about a Portales, NM woman who was arrested and handcuffed in front of her children for not returning a Twilight movie and DVD. She had racked up almost $36 in fines. I thought, surely this can’t be true! After one google search, I found the story all over the web. It was true! The charges were eventually dropped in this case, but there are many more stories all over this great nation of people being arrested and charged for not returning library materials.While at first glance, I found this absolutely ridiculous, I read more into it. Libraries are providing a service to these cities, and when someone decides to keep books and/or movies from the library, they are costing them money. Money that is already spread thin. In many of these cases, letters of warning were sent out, phone calls were made, and summons to appear in court were issued, yet the delinquent patron blew it off as no big deal. Imagine their surprise when the cops show up to haul them off to jail. Now if a person has been summoned to court and fails to appear, then yes, they can be arrested. There have been a few cases though, in which children have been completely traumatized, all because of a library book. The New Mexico mom was handcuffed and hauled off with her five children watching. A cop showed up to a home in NY, and a five year old child was in tears because she thought she was going to jail. Now, I don’t have a good solution in these cases, but maybe it could have been handled in a better way, away from the children. These kids are never going to want to step foot in a public library again!On August 20th for a couple of weeks, you can return any overdue materials with no fee and no questions asked no matter how overdue it is. This is only this year, and only in Chicago. The mayor wants children to be able to start the school year being able to go to the library and not have to worry about any overdue fines. Pretty nice for the city to do, seeing as delinquent patrons owe the city of Chicago more than 1.4 million dollars in overdue fines. Isn’t that astounding? Just return your books, people! The mayor also closed libraries on Mondays (they have recently re-opened now for half a day), because they couldn’t afford to keep them open. People complained about this, but what do you expect? If people don’t return their books, the library loses money. You have no right to complain if you are part of the problem!Now, I have to admit, I have had an overdue book or movie in my time of borrowing from the library. But you know what I did? I returned the material and paid the small fine, because it’s the right thing to do. If I didn’t, I would have lost privileges to the library, and that would have devastated my son who loves to go there. People need to realize that there are consequences to their actions, and it usually affects more than just yourself. Even if it is just a book, it’s not legally yours to keep, and they can and will come after you or even report it to your credit bureau in some cases. While arrests are rare, they do happen. Just pay the fine, or better yet, return it on time! Our libraries are important to our cities, and I would hate to see them suffer because of the public’s irresponsible behavior.Now, go dig out all those unreturned books. You’ll thank me later.