6 Days In Jail For Overdue Library Books

Beloit, Wisconsin does not f*&% around when it comes to library books. When your books aren’t returned to the Beloit Public Library, three overdue notices are mailed out and then you may be issued a citation that could possibly include a court date.

Beloit-resident Keely Givhan says she was in the process of moving and never got the notices. When she was pulled over in November, police saw that she had an outstanding warrant and arrested her, says the Associated Press.

She and her family couldn’t afford to pay her fine so she remained in jail for six days.

Beloit police Capt. Bill Tyler said he knows this case could sound like an overreaction. But he said a municipal fine is a municipal fine, and failure to pay for any reason can result in an arrest warrant being issued.

We are so glad that we do not live in Beloit. We’re so forgetful about library books that we’d have like, a sentence of life in prison without parole by now.

Woman Jailed For Failing To Return Books [Channel 3000 via Fark]


Edit Your Comment

  1. billbillbillbill says:

    I bet they let drug dealers walk after a day!

  2. cde says:


    Yes, caps were necessary.

  3. rkmc12 says:

    That’s intense.
    The last time I was at my local library I overheard a librarian telling someone they still have books from two years ago.

  4. renilyn says:

    Wonder what happens for an overdue parking ticket… geeze

  5. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    Dude shouldn’t have kept ‘Tropic Of Cancer’ for 20 years, if he didn’t want the library cop breathing down his neck.

  6. Crymson_77 says:

    @renilyn: Probably take you out back and shoot you…

  7. dearheart says:

    @rkmc12: I’m a librarian, and guilty of that, too. (Not two years, not even close…but damn if I can’t get stuff in by the due date. And I’m here 5 days a week!)

  8. Coder4Life says:

    This is why are our Jails are SO CROWDED?

    I suppose I better pay that $25 ticket I got for parking in the snow route. Otherwise they might come and get me too.. I am in IOWA though.l

  9. vliam says:

    I, for one, feel a lot safer with these ruffians off the street.

  10. adminslave says:

    Aw, at my local library they just offered generally amnesty. Come in between the two week date, and your fees are wiped clean! I think this was for under 30 bucks or so, though….

  11. johnarlington says:

    The police showed up to my house one afternoon looking for $250 worth of missing library books. We told him that we’d have it taken care of the following week. Our landlord came a call’n wanting to know what the police were over for. We told him it was just for the drug dealing.

    Funny thing is he didn’t ask any follow up questions…

    No sense of humor…. thats what a PhD in comparative lit gets you

  12. goodkitty says:

    But uh, just how many overdue books does she have if the fine is so high, they can’t pay it?

  13. Valhawk says:

    It’s crap like this that makes me want to cut library funding.

  14. jnews says:

    “But he said a municipal fine is a municipal fine, and failure to pay for any reason can result in an arrest warrant being issued.”

    The problem is the conversion of a civil fine into a criminal matter, leading to arrest. One must assume she was put before a judge during her six day stay — who was the judge who sent someone back to debtor’s prison^W^Wjail for failure to pay a fine rather than releasing her on a signature bond? If on the other hand, she was in jail 6 days without before being permitted to see a judge, that right there is unconscionable.

    Altogether, I’d almost prefer libraries merely ruin my credit and deal with slimeball collection agencies than have to hear “I’m sorry sir, your library account is NOT in good standing. Please step this way.”

  15. winter_in_asia says:


    Probably the same thing — they’re both municipal fines.

  16. Pylon83 says:

    She’s wasn’t put in jail for failure to pay her library fines. She was put in jail for failure to appear in court. The issue is getting confused here. She likely knew she had a court date, and that she could either pay the fines prior to that date, or appear in court. Clearly she chose to do neither. She was not put in “Debtors” prison, she was put in “I didn’t show up, as ordered, to court” prison. While I think making library fines a “municipal” fine, like a parking ticket, is a bit overboard, it in no way lessens her duty to appear in court.

  17. TWinter says:

    jnews is right.

    I don’t think the issue here is really a problem with the library it is a problem with the legal system. They would have done the same to her with any municipal fine – no tag on her dog, not shoveling her sidewalks after snow, allowing weeds to grow in her yard, parking tickets, etc. etc. Whatever a city can theoretically fine you for. None of those matters should ever send anybody to jail for six days.

  18. sibertater says:

    @goodkitty: I understood this to mean that she couldn’t pay the court fines.

  19. jnews says:

    @Pylon83: Failure to appear to a court date in a civil matter results in a default judgment against you, not a warrant for your arrest. Except in Wisconsin, apparently.

  20. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Thats harsh. Here in gitmo, they just waterboard you for a little bit and let you go.

  21. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    Well, at least it explains why 1% of America is now incarcerated.

  22. StevieD says:

    When I was a kid (40+ years ago) one of my library books was lost. I swore that I did not have it. I swore that it was in the stack of books that Dad had returned. The Library swore that they did not have the book.

    $125 lost book charge (mom kept the paperwork along with my report cards etc). It was a dinky young kids book. Back in those days it might have cost $10 for a hardcover. Thank god Dad paid the fee, else I might still be in jail.

  23. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I cannot believe the nerve of these scofflaws with the overdue books. Praise jeebus that we’re not wasting time and tax money going after criminals.

  24. CharlieSeattle says:

    @jnews: True, except you have property that doesn’t belong to you, I would think this could be considered theft, if you don’t return them.

  25. yesteryear says:

    is there an online database where i can check to see if any of these people live near me? it’s disgusting to think that people with overdue library books are walking free on our streets.

  26. mrsmarti says:

    It seems that no one wants to assume responsibility for ones choices; let alone the consequenses of our choices. We all have excuses. We all think we should be exempt. If those are the rules, so be it. Do the right thing and return books or pay your fine.
    It would seem that the person must have had a very large fine to not be able to pay it, or borrow it to pay. Sometimes folks think they can just ignore rules and get away with it. No sympathy here. Yes, I’ve gotten fines on a book, but I turned the book in 2-3 days late and paid up.

  27. Parting says:

    The punishment was unnecessary, if she couldn’t pay, then she should do some free work for community. That way resources aren’t wasted on minor offense.

    However, she didn’t return her books. If someone would loan a book from you and didn’t return it? That’s called stealing.

    And if you’re tight on money, take books back to the library, apologize, explain the situation. You fines will be reduced or forgiven.

    And the excuse ”oh, I was moving…” . Well, she still lived on the address. I don’t believe she doesn’t open her correspondence. So she was probably ignoring her library requests.

  28. Parting says:

    @StevieD: In this case, your parents should have negotiated with the library to cover the cost only, and maybe to kick on another children’s book. Common sense should prevail. But this is a job for adults, not kids.

  29. Parting says:

    @rkmc12: Library should force these people to do some free work for them. Like clean the windows, floors, throw out the garbage :)

  30. SOhp101 says:

    Kinda misleading… she went to jail because she failed to show at her hearing, which is a result of her negligence to respond to court summons.

    I’m surprised they would go that far to get the overdue fines. She must have owed a lot of money to the library.

  31. cde says:

    @chouchou: Part of Stealing is intent. If you let me borrow a book, and I intend to keep it, then its theft. If I loose it, then its not. If I decide not to pay you the full amount for it, its a civil dispute. Not criminal in any sense.

  32. Bay State Darren says:

    Before anyone starts attacking the police for arresting her: an outstanding warrant is an outstanding warrant. Officers have zero discretion in most [I’m pretty sure all] states to forego the arrest. The article does not specifically say, but it sounds like a bench warrant for failure to appear in court. Personally, it sounds to me like it got blown out of proportion with the initial summons to court and then got worse when the judge or whomever was presiding [would’ve been a magistrate here in MA] issued the warrant.

    All the court costs, etc. IMHO, were wastes of tax-dollars and valuable court time.

  33. legotech says:

    Wow, now if you are drafted you’ll end up on the Group W bench.

  34. MYarms says:

    Everything you can get at a library is available for free on the internet. Tell these governments where they can shove their fines and just download the stuff like everyone else.

  35. Whitey Fisk says:

    Pressed chest
    Fleshed out west
    Might be the savior
    Or a garden pest

  36. I’ve always maintained that reading is dangerous.

  37. DrGirlfriend says:

    @yesteryear: I can see where you’re going, but I don’t think that brings enough shame on these perps. I advocate a Scarlet Letter system, whereby this type of scum is branded for all to see. This eliminates people having to actually seek out a database, and simply makes these scofflaws easily identifiable to all.

  38. majortom1981 says:

    I can see why they did this. Library book are bought from your taxes. when people steal and dont return them they have to buy the book again therefore taking it out of that years budget. IF that happens a lot taxes for that district will keep going up. So the library has to do something to stop bleeding money if people are always not returning materials.

  39. cde says:

    @majortom1981: Not true. They don’t have to, and unless its a requested book, probably won’t buy it again. And in that case, fining over the price of the book + 50% is excessive.

    *I Work at a library.

  40. StevieD says:


    Oh, I am sure Dad did some negotiating /compromise.

    Mom just kept the document to show what they went through in raising me.

  41. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @Pylon83: “She likely knew she had a court date…” You should really learn to read more carefully.

    “she was in the process of moving and never got the notices.”

  42. peggynature says:

    Man, I almost single-handedly keep the library here in business. But I happily and regularly pay my fines, whatever. It’s still cheaper than buying all those books.

    I wonder how much this woman’s fine was? And, what’s worse: having a warrant issued for your arrest, or having the fine sent to collections?

  43. peggynature says:

    @legotech: OMG with all the mother-stabbers and father-rapers!

  44. Bay State Darren says:

    BTW, How come nobody’s posted this here yet?! You guys are slacking off!

    + Watch video Courtesy: Weird Al Yankovic

  45. DrGirlfriend says:

    @peggynature: I had a library fine sent to collections. Even though I paid it the very day I got the bill in the mail.

    It is quite embarassing to have MULTNOMAH COUNTY LIBRARY emblazoned on the collections section of your credit report.

  46. humphrmi says:

    @majortom1981: Being late returning a library book != (not equal) “stealing” a book.

    A realize it’s a tax expense. And I’m a taxpayer, with a healthy self-interest in reducing my taxes. But I also realize that there are a lot of reasons for being late returning a book. For instance, kids have to finish book reports. Are the police going to put a ten-year-old in jail because “an outstanding warrant is an outstanding warrant”?

    IANAL, but I think legally it’s pretty shaky at best. Someone could probably challenge the imprisonment as illegal. As someone pointed out, late fees are a civil fine, not a criminal fine, and issuing an arrest warrant against a civil debt borders on debtors jail, which we’ve outlawed in the U.S.

  47. Bay State Darren says:

    @humphrmi: The warrant was NOT for the fine, it was for failure to appear in court [i.e. appearing to brush off a judge]. I don’t know about WI, but here in MA a police officer is legally obligated to arrest you for an outstanding warrant. She was not jailed for failure to pay the fine, but failurue to appear, which is not a civil infraction.

  48. edrebber says:

    Can the library prove the notices were sent, can the court prove a citation was delivered to the defendant to appear in court? Legal proof would require a witness testifying they personally put the notices and citation in the hands of the defendant. Common carriers or USPS do not meet the legal requirement, because they will let anyone at a residence sign for a delivery. An officer of the court has to make physical contact with the defendant and deliver written notification of the court date.

    Either part of the story has been omitted or the defendant has been falsely imprisoned.

  49. Snarkysnake says:


    I’m a bail bondsman. I get two or three of these cases every year. The folks on this board that say that the arrest and detainment was for failure to satisfy a summons are correct. The cops DO have to run you in with an active warrant on file. Period. We can argue all day if this was an overreaction by the library, but failure to appear is a pretty serious matter to every judge that I deal with. “I moved and didn’t get my notice in the mail” is not a valid excuse. It is the defandants responsibility to keep the court apprised of their correct address at all times. In every one of these library book cases that I have seen, the judge just orders return of the book (or restitution) and nominal court costs. Case dismissed. This person would have probably got the same treatment in her court. But not showing up makes you look like you don’t give a damn and then the court system escalates. Sorry, but thats the way it is…

  50. RISwampyankee says:

    In Wisconsin, failure to show up in court results in a “bench warrant” and these things do *not* go away.

  51. Pylon83 says:

    That’s not entirely true. Method of service varies by state, and even by county. Some accept valid service by postal mail, some don’t. Clearly whatever jurisdiction in WI this occured in did.
    Further, I totally agree with @Snarkysnake: re: moving as an excuse for not getting the notices. If she didn’t forward her mail and didn’t check the previous residence for it, it’s her own fault.

  52. picantel says:


    In some podunk ohio town I got a speeding ticket and showed up to court. AFter pleading no contest they told me I had to pay right there or go to jail. Of course, I was expecting a couple weeks or so to get the money up and did not have it so they threw me in a cell until I called someone to come pay the fine and bail me out. The problem was, they never bothered to tell anyone this so people were getting tossed behind bars right and left and women were crying and it was pathetic and dirty and disgusting what they did to people.

  53. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    An then they wonder why people are using the internet more and the library less. My ISP doesn’t charge me if I fail to return the bytes I’ve borrowed.

  54. humphrmi says:

    @BayStateDarren: The warrant was issued against a civil penalty. I don’t know about MA, but here in IL when a defendant fails to appear for a civil court date, they enter a default judgment against them, not an arrest warrant.

  55. milw123 says:

    Well I say throw the…nope, sorry; can’t do it – too easy.

  56. impudence says:

    I used to live there. Went to Beloit college. Most backwards place I ever lived. And the crime rate is incredible for a town of 30,000.

  57. Bay State Darren says:

    @humphrmi: I don’t know much about the civil side here in MA, as for WI, where this occurred, the article reads: “When a police officer pulled her over for a traffic violation in November, the officer found out about her outstanding warrant and took her to jailfailure to pay for any reason can result in an arrest warrant being issued.

  58. chatterboxwriting says:

    I spent a night in jail over several parking tickets about a month ago. They were OLD tickets that I thought I had paid off – I had called the court and asked for my final payoff amount, sent in the money order, kept the MO receipt, etc. Fast-forward 3 years later, and I get arrested and spend the night in a county jail because apparently, I owed more than the clerk told me I did. It didn’t matter that I *did* send in that money order, it just mattered that I didn’t satisfy the entire amount.

    The clerk said she sent reminder notices; however, I had actually filed a report with my postmaster because people kept saying they sent me mail and I wasn’t getting it. So it wasn’t really the court’s fault – I believe they did send notices if they said they were sent – I just had a documented problem getting my mail and I never got them.

    So pay those outstanding parking tickets – they WILL arrest you for not paying them. And, the notices she sent were NOT hearing date notices. I was NOT arrested for failure to appear – I was arrested for outstanding tickets, so it does happen.

  59. humphrmi says:

    @BayStateDarren: My point exactly. WI law is heavy-handed at best and likely illegal. This was a civil judgement against the defendant. Whether the warrant was for failure to appear in civil court or failure to pay a civil judgement, taking her into custody amounted to civil debt collection and Law enforcement officials are not supposed to becivil debt collectors, they are supposed to be fighting crime and taking criminals to jail. Talk about a waste of tax dollars!

  60. camille_javal says:

    @StevieD: Apropos of *nothing* (so skip this if you’re looking for something relevant), your story made me think of this – at the end of my first year of grad school, a book turned up on my account that I’d never checked out. I spent two months arguing with the library about it – are you sure you didn’t leave it in your car? (don’t have one) your office? (don’t have one) your apartment? (moved out; left nothing). They wanted to charge me $300 to replace it; I was living off of an $11,000 fellowship. Finally they sent me the record, and I was sure I was right – at the time at which the book was checked out, I was having an endoscopy. I took my medical record into the library, including the photos of the inside of my stomach. They dropped the fine.

    (on this topic – I do find it troubling that a municipality wouldn’t send a summons via a method that requires signature – even without moving, there are plenty of post office failures)

  61. Bay State Darren says:

    @humphrmi: Yeah, at some point, the judge or magistrate should have looked at and said, “Overdue library book?! Are you shitting me? Get me a real case!” OTOH, keeping her address up to date and complying with summons, etc. is her responsibility. She probably was not trying to shirk her responsibility or show disrespect for the court, but it took until she was arrested on the warrant to find that out. IMHO, at that point the case should have been blown back into proportion.

    This brings to mind what all my criminal justice professors say is the important lesson in that field: Never piss off the judges! She inadvertently broke this rule and it cost her.

  62. Bay State Darren says:

    @BayStateDarren: what all my criminal justice professors say is the most important lesson in that field

  63. jimda says:

    couldn’t they work out a payment plan, its got to be more expensive keeping her in jail then the fine is for the overdue books.

  64. erratapage says:

    If failure to respond to a summons might result in a deprivation of liberty, the summons should be served personally. Otherwise, I think there is a due process violation.

    If I got a letter that said I had to appear in court for unpaid library fines, I would probably think it was a joke.

  65. PixelatedKD says:

    I’ve worked in several Public Defender offices in CA and we occasionally see this in conservative counties. To clear some things up: 1) Often people who cannot pay the fines are charged with theft (of the books), even if they are technically just overdue, and even if the person agrees to return them. Hence, no problem with civil vs. criminal. She could have ended up in jail two ways: when the library finally spoke to the police or DA and the DA pressed charges, or if indeed she was cited and signed a promise to appear then failed to show. 2) Bench warrants are issued for criminal failures to appear (and sometimes failing to show up for jury duty summons if you’ve ever wondered). Generally speaking, there can be no default judgment made against you unless you’ve appeared with counsel or pro per. Otherwise your due process rights would be totally violated. It is true in this case that she was initially picked up and brought to jail for the outstanding warrant, but she remained in jail for the actual violation. 3) She was probably in county jail for 6 days because her fine was $600+ (or whatever formula her county goes by). For example, if I owed a fine for $500, and I was unable to pay it, or had been given an opportunity to pay it and failed to do so, the judge has discretion to order me to serve it in jail by the county’s formula of $100/day. Hence, I could be in jail for 5 days until being released.

  66. Bay State Darren says:

    @erratapage: If I got a letter that said I had to appear in court for unpaid library fines, I would probably think it was a joke. It would still be legally binding though. IANAL, but it’d still be up to you to contact the court and confirm your suspicions.

    @this thread’s participants in general: I know the U.S. postal system sucks, but documents sent through it still apply. How many of you get/got [pre-internet] bills through it that you have to pay or use it for said payment? IA[still]NAL, but if you get you utilities cut because of posted documents or use it to vote in an official election, than the USPS, for better or worse, is sufficient enough for other legal documents.
    [I feel dirty for defending the post office.]

  67. sam1am says:

    It’s important, I think, to make the proper distinction here. This lady was not put in jail for having overdue library books – she was put in jail for failing to comply with and pay a fine from the city.

  68. Pylon83 says:

    This was not a civl judgment against her. This was a misdemeanor of failure to pay a municipal fine. No different than failure to pay a parking ticket or speeding ticket. Clearly WI has chosen to equate parking tickets and library fines as one in the same.

  69. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @Snarkysnake: I never said she was correct in not appearing, only that the previous commenter believed the consumer CHOSE not to appear.

    You assume too much.

  70. Bay State Darren says:

    @MARTHA__JONES: Courts tend not to see a difference between choosing not to appear and inadvertantly not being there.

  71. MARTHA__JONES says:

    Also if you are served to an incorrect address, it can be contested and you do not have to appear.

  72. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @BayStateDarren: You missed the point entirely. Thanks for playing.

  73. Pylon83 says:

    But if she had not officially changed her address, the court is likely to conclude that she still resided there for the purposes of service. It said she was in the “process” of moving, which can have many forms. Unless it was obvious she no longer lived there, and she can prove that her lease had ended, the home had been sold, or she had officially change her address, she’ll have a hard time getting the service quashed.

  74. I’m sorry but:


  75. sauceistheboss says:

    She couldn’t afford the library fine?

    Anyways, one should know when a book is returned overdue, and expect to pay a fine. I bet she thought she got off without paying… and then she was arrested…

  76. girly says:

    The library in my sister’s town has some kind of warning about a misdemeanor or something stamped on the books it lends.

    I have had some pretty spectacular library fines. I’ve always paid, but I’m glad the law has not come after me.

    Way too harsh.

  77. Had a friend/co-worker who had this happen to him. After dealing with a tool for a cop it was found out that it was a mistake and that the library’s system screwed things up and never told the collection agency/cops that he had returned it and there was a warrant out for his arrest… he wasn’t even told what the warrant was for until the hearing (the cop pretty much took him straight there).

    He never pursued getting any of the impounding money back because he’s a regional director with a the ministry we work for and our legal/PR group would have had to be a part of it… which just wasn’t worth the $50, that and he’s a nice guy. (I have to say that, I sent him a link to the article.)

  78. FLConsumer says:

    This explains the NY Times article last week which shows that 1:100 Americans is behind bars. Way to go police state!

  79. djtripp says:

    Mr. Bookman approves

  80. lukobe says:

    @FLConsumer: Actually, it’s the failed War on Drugs that explains it, but…

  81. joemono says:

    Technicalities aside, this entire situation is asinine and absurd. Why would overdue books have anything to do with the courts? This is the society we live in?

    Someone somewhere sometime had to say “Yes, library fines can/should be a matter for the court to decide.” Does anyone have a time machine so that I can go back in time and punch that guy(s) in the face? And win the lotto.

  82. Scuba Steve says:

    If we don’t jail people for failing to pay fines, then no one would pay fines.

    I know I wouldn’t.

  83. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Conan the Librarian is back!
    “Don’t you know the Dewey Decimal System?”

  84. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Snarkysnake: “It is the defandants responsibility to keep the court apprised of their correct address at all times.”
    If you don’t know you’re a defendant? I was unaware we had gotten that far down the road in bush’s amerika and had to make sure the first people to know we moved were THE AUTHORITIES.
    Civil rights? Don’t worry, soon you won’t have ANY and there won’t be any question of ‘showing your receipt’ and there won’t be any Consumerist.com.

  85. Maulleigh says:

    I’ll bet there’s more to this story. That must have been some big fine. But even so, where is the difference between stealing a loaf of wonderbread and a copy of The Da Vinci Code?

    When you go to the library, you enter into a contract: a contract of you returning the books after a certain period.

    I’m a big library nerd and I’d like everyone who doesn’t return their books to do jail time.

  86. girly says:

    @doctor_cos: a lot of libraries do give receipts now, come to think of it

    I do agree they seem to have glossed over the fact she didn’t know she had fines or a court date in the first place.

  87. girly says:

    @Maulleigh: They usually cap fines. They will even waive fines in certain cases. At least at my library.

    Worst case they might make you pay for the book’s replacement value.

    I think the library is awesome, but it is there to serve the people. Jailing people for fines is not right.

    This isn’t Les Miserables!

  88. zero_o says:

    Boo-hoo-hoo, just return your books on time, you had time to go get them, take them back if you need to have the book longer renew it! Other people want to read those books and if you don’t return it there is a chance they won’t buy that book again especially in smaller libraries. If you are not responsible enough to return a book on time (you know who you are) that why we have bookstores.

  89. Japheaux says:

    Alas…she was taken downtown and booked. Sorry.

    @Maulleigh: There IS more to this story. The arresting officers and district attorney are too embarassed to reveal that the lady took two books:the Beloit Telephone White Pages, and the another undisclosed book. The real crime is that only half of the pictures in book #2 were colored in.

  90. azntg says:

    At least I know one place where I won’t ever live… bumf*ck Beloit, WI. If those guys have too much time on their hands to create a criminal case over a civil matter, then I’d better move on.

    I still love my local library. Great books and friendly staff in most branches. At least I think they’re worth the annual voluntary donation I make to them on top of whatever fines I owe (I only shelled out $2 over the last 5 years)

  91. pandroid says:

    A few years ago I moved and even though I submitted the change of address form multpile times, and even called my current and previous postmaster, I got exactly one piece of mail forwarded to me. That one piece of mail showed up two months late. After that experience, I have a hard time faulting anyone that has mail lost during the moving process.

  92. Snarkysnake says:


    Switch to decaf. Oh, also,learn to spell. Its “America”.

    Also, I’m almost certain that defendants had to appear to satisfy citations and warrants before president Bush was elected.If I get time ,(and the president hasn’t burned them) I will go double check a history book.Ya know,he’s not my favorite president , but you haters out there in the ether must lead some mighty depressing lives…

  93. Clumber says:

    CRAP! You mean that recurring nightmare of mine is TRUE??!!!

  94. Jordan Lund says:

    I wonder how much money it cost them to imprison someone for 6 days vs. the cost of the fine?

  95. lovelibraries says:

    This woman was picked up for a traffic violation. When her name was run, there was a warrant for her arrest. In Wisconsin warrants are issued for anybody who fails to appear in court. And I believe this was a Municipal Court action. She was not sent to jail for not returning her library books. She was sent to jail because she didn’t bother to show up in court. Whether or not she received the overdue notices is irrelevant. Did she think she was allowed to keep the books forever? It also doesn’t matter how much she owed the library. Failure to return library materials is theft of the taxpayers’ money. I happen to work in a library and I know how many books don’t get returned each year. In my library it adds up to thousands and thousands of dollars. What would everyone be saying about this library if they didn’t try to get the materials returned?

  96. unohoo says:

    MYarms wrote: “Everything you can get at a library is available for free on the internet. Tell these governments where they can shove their fines and just download the stuff like everyone else.”

    That is so not true, MYarms. While a lot is available on the internet, it doesn’t come close to offering what a library has. I depend on my research librarian and the fantastic interlibrary loan (ILL) system for truly hard to find and rare material. With ILL, my little podunk library is as large as the US.

    I heart my library.

  97. chartrule says:

    something is seriously wrong when overdue library books result in a criminal record.

  98. lyndyn says:

    @unohoo: Thank you. The hostility on this thread is a little unnerving.

    I recently had to call the cops on a patron for the first time EVER. A thousand dollars worth of ILLs, six months overdue. Even so, rather than requesting a warrant – which we totally would have been within our rights to do – we arranged for the police to make a courtesy appearance at the patron’s home, informing him that charges would be filed the next morning. He returned the books. And I was horribly upset about having to take that drastic step, and OMG so relieved we didn’t have to actually press charges formally that I actually cried a little.

    Dudes, your librarian is NOT out to screw you. Honestly. Please don’t take very rare, unusual, and complicated cases like this the norm (I’m looking at you, Valhawk). We offer a lot of really cool stuff for free; the only thing we ask is that when you’re done with it, someone else also gets to enjoy it for free.

    cde: That’s interesting; is it your experience that there’s not a lot of overlap between “books that go missing” and “insanely popular books”? Because, let me tell you, there’s a lot of overlap where I work. Which is part of why we DO replace upwards of 80% of the items that go missing. Thank God for Bookmooch.

    *I am a collection mananger.

  99. lovelygirl says:

    Wow. I had to tag this on del.ico.us as “ridiculous-news” lol. I can understand that they need to get tough on people who don’t have consideration for others and return their library books, but I think 6 days in jail is a bit severe! The judge could see that she was moving– just ask the moving company for a receipt or something?!

  100. coolkiwilivin says:

    I had a friend in West Chester County PA have a similar thing happen to him. He was arrested for an overdue book that he had actually returned. The sequence of events is too long to write here but there were problems on every level from,the library that has no way of correcting the information about overdue accounts after they submitted it to the police. This whole situation is ridiculous and while they might be observing the letter of the law, they obviously can’t see the spirit of the law. Pinhead trial lawyers who sue over stupidest things are definitely a reason why we are in this kind of mess.

  101. GretchenEspical says:

    Umm, even when you’re in the process of moving, you can still get your mail. Ever hear of forwarding your mail with the USPS? Not receiving one notice is difficult to believe but not receiving several is nearly impossible. She’s full of BS if you ask me. I felt kind of bad for her when I read the article in the newspaper but when I saw her on the local evening news, she was a little bit arrogant and had a bad attitude, not taking any responsibility. I changed my opinion of her somewhat.