Library Calls Cops to Collect Child's Overdue Books -- Is That Necessary?

Ever see that Seinfeld episode when Jerry is tracked down by Mr. Bookman the library cop about a 20-year overdue library book? For one Charlton, MA 5-year-old girl, her book borrowing offenses were no laughing matter. That’s because two overdue library books resulted in a visit to the Benoit family home from the police on December 27 that left the kindergartner in tears, according to CBS Boston. She was terrified that she or her mom was going to be put in jail.

Lest you think the officer was the villain in all this, Sergeant Dan Dowd told the local news station that he felt bad having to handle this task after the library called in the offense. And library officials say the Benoits were one of 13 homes visited in an effort to retrieve books and/or collect fines totaling over $2,600 after multiple notices were sent (the Benoit family denies having received prior notices).

This method is hardly the norm. Many library systems use a system of follow-up calls or emails, and then eventually suspend borrowing privileges, and turn delinquent accounts over to collection agencies. The child's mom found the books in the house, returned them to the officer, and that was that. But at a time when people are spending more time downloading their books than visiting their local library, you have to wonder if the Charlton Public Library might have chosen a better option.

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