You Can Go To Jail For An Overdue Library Book

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it is not to mess with librarians or library materials. We’ve learned some other things too, of course, but for today’s lesson in library lateness, just go with it. Moving on!

A Texas man was arrested this week for failing to return a GED study guide he simply spent too long studying — three years — and was sent to jail to mull over his actions, or lack thereof. It’s not like he’s serving hard time or anything, though. People like him are usually released on a $200 bond after arrest, notes a municipal judge.

KTWX.com cites court documents that show he first checked out the guide in 2010 and never responded to the library’s subsequent attempts by phone and emails to recover its property. The library told the municipal court and boom, you’ve got an active overdue libraries material warrant on your head and cops can bring you in during a routine stop.

To those who say it sounds unfair to go to jail over a book, just think about the people who might want or need that same tome, only to find it unavailable, said the judge. That’s why the city passed the ordinance allowing for arrest warrants in these cases a few years ago — it was getting too expensive to replace materials that weren’t coming back.

“Universal hatred,” the judge calls the reaction to the ordinance. “Nobody wants to get arrested over a library book. The other side of that is people that go to our library and can’t have these materials, they’re put out too,” he said of the reaction to getting an arrest in such a case.

The suspect didn’t seem excited to talk to local media about his case, but KTWX notes that a copy of a GED study guide like the one he checked out was back on the shelf, with his library card inside.

We can’t help but wonder how that GED went after three years of studying.

And of course we can’t mention overdue books without trotting out the great library detective Mr. Bookman:

Overdue Library Book Lands Local Man In Jail [KTWX.com]

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  1. hominygrit says:

    Wow, I’d better pay that 20 I owe.

  2. AndyTehNerd says:

    It may seem like “just” a library book, but public libraries are full of public property for the public use. Not returning library books is stealing from the public. Of course, accidents happen, so pay your fines or try to work out a deal to make it up to your local library.

  3. nchiker says:

    Seems reasonable. You borrow something from the library and ignore repeated attempts to get it back or pay, then jail is appropriate as a last resort.