By Jordan Chittley
Usually when people keep a library book too long, they may get a fine, but a U.S. mom is saying her local library went too far when trying to collect.
Shannon Benoit was at home with her daughter when a police officer stopped by to let her know her five-year-old daughter’s books were several months overdue and they needed to be returned or paid for.
“I thought it was way overboard,” Benoit said to CBS Boston. “I closed my door, I looked at my daughter and she started crying.” Daughter Hailey then asked her mom if she was going to be arrested.
Even the police officer who had to deliver the news thought it was a bit much. “Nobody wanted to, on this end get involved in it, but the library contacted us,” said Sergeant Dan Dowd to CBS Boston. “Apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole.”
The police could do this because it is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts and the police thought a friendly reminder was better than a court summons.
Library director Cheryl Hansen told the Worcester Telegram she has been getting emails calling her a moron, an idiot and a communist. But Hansen defends her decision to send the cop saying they were after a more expensive overdue audio book her father had since early 2009. She also said taxpayer dollars are used to purchase the books and it is her duty to safeguard the investment.
North of the border, the Windsor Public Library in southern Ontario is taking a much different approach. They announced that starting Tuesday there will be no more fines for overdue books.
“You don’t want to penalize people for reading,” said Library chair Councillor Al Maghnieh to CBC News. He said the library can live with people returning books a little late because sometimes it just takes people longer to get through a book. “It’s a way of really rewarding our patrons for using the library.”
Maghnieh did not mention how the library will make up the $50,000 shortfall from not collecting overdue fines.
As for the Benoit family, they found and returned Hailey’s books the evening after the police visit.