Jail Time For Overdue Books

The punishment for overdue library books just got a lot worse. The Athens-Limestone Public Library has over $200,000 worth of material that hasn’t been returned. In order to gain that money back, the library has instated a pretty severe penalty.

A city ordinance states, “it is unlawful for any person who has a library card to ‘fail or refuse to return’ any materials borrowed or withdrawn from the public library.” The library is kept up by taxpayers and patrons and the director of the library feels that “offenders are not only stealing from the library, but also from other library patrons and taxpayers.” 

The punishment according to The News Courier is as follows:

Any person who violates the ordinance may receive a fine of up to $100, be sentenced to a city jail term of 30 days or possibly both at the discretion of the municipal judge. 

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 According to Atlas Obscura

Patrons will be notified that they have overdue items that need to be returned, giving them time and multiple notifications to send them back ahead of any prosecution. Should the texts, emails, and certified letters from a collection agency not get through, only then will the library get higher authorities involved. The library also said they would not be going after children.

In my opinion, this is over the top. There are criminals out there who are truly harmful, and yet this city wants to fill up jails with readers? Come on Alabama, what’s the deal? Taxpayers pay for jails too! 

I guess next time you borrow a library book in Alabama, make sure you return it! 


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