A woman in Iowa was arrested for failing to return a library book. Read the whole article here. It says she had to pay a $250 bond over a book worth $13.95. What the article doesn't tell us is why the woman won't return the book or pay its value. What's her side of the story? I'm a little suspicious and I'll tell you why. My family has a small issue with our library right now. Here's what happened:
I homeschool my kids so we use the library weekly, even during the summer. My son, who is 15, worked as a volunteer at the library a couple of years ago so we are on a first name basis with several of the librarians. They know all of us and they know that my son is a quiet and well behaved kid. So in the fall I got an email about some books that were overdue. I asked my son about them and he said he hadn't checked anything out since the spring. I keep the library cards in my purse so I knew that was true. But when I looked for the card it wasn't in my purse. It wasn't in the car; it wasn't in his bedroom; it wasn't anywhere. So I went to the library to find out about these books and report the missing card. The four books were a month overdue and had accrued fines of $28. When we saw the titles I knew that someone else had used my son's card. Two of the books were expensive game manuals for Play Station 2. We don't own any video games. The other two books were manuals for role playing games, one of them being the book my son last checked out, in May. What I figured what happened was that my son used his library card as a bookmark. When the book was reshelved, the next person to look through it found his card and decided to steal some books he wanted.
The librarians were gracious enough to take the first two books off our account but because my son has a history of checking out role playing manuals they will not take the other two books off his account. The $14 that are owed for those books put us over our fine limit meaning he cannot check out any new books until the fine is paid. But I refuse to pay for books we didn't check out.
Now I can see the library's point of view to a degree. They can't know that we didn't steal the books and if we don't pay for them then they have to pay for them. But we have a history with this library. We go through about 40 books and movies in a two week period. In the years that we have used this library I have lost one book, which I told them I lost and I paid for it. When I return books late I pay my fines. I think this ought to count for something. I think that based on this and my relationship with these librarians I shouldn't be responsible for these fines. But I am. My son, who has done nothing wrong, cannot use his library card until he or I pay for books we never even saw. I'm obviously very upset by this whole thing.
Could this woman's story be similar to my own? Could I be arrested because I refuse to pay for these two books? And one more thought provoking question for you: if you were going to steal a $14 book, would you take it from the library?