A pair of pint-sized scholarly scofflaws, who owe a total of $4,223.85 in overdue fees for books they haven’t returned to the Library, will be exonerated thanks to a city-wide program that grants amnesty to library outlaws under the age of 18 — as long as they start borrowing again.
Now through Oct. 31, the library will call off Mr. Bookman, and is forgiving a total of $150,000 in overdue fines if scofflaws check in at their local branch and promise to start taking out books again.
“For us, it’s more about getting people back in the building and using the service than anything else,” said Jason Carey, library spokesman.
That includes two serial offenders who top the list: one has 97 books outstanding, racking up $2,591.87 in fines since 2008; the other has 98 books, totaling $1,641.98 in past due fines since 2005. The library would not divulge the names of the spongers.
The library normally charges 25 cents a day for late books taken out by adults or 10 cents a day for books from the children’s section. Overdue CDs cost a buck a day and DVDs are $2. And once your bill tops $15, you are cut off from borrowing anything any more, but the library allows borrowers to take out 99 items at once, which can account for the massive fines.
The library says it isn’t concerned that letting the deadbeats borrow again will end with them taking on more debt.
“That $2,500 — that person has probably not come back because they owe that amount, so that’s money we wouldn’t ever get back anyway,” said Carey. “There are a couple of people who owe a lot of money, but these are really the exception to the rule.”
Still, some books are more popular among scofflaws then others.
The perennial classic “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss is the most popular item for deadbeats, followed by “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” by J.K. Rowling.
And the library says a copy of “Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z,” by Lois Ehlert has been checked out since February of 2001, so it is feasible that the borrower is now reading the book to his or her own kids.
The library offered a similar amnesty program to all its patrons in April, but this one specifically targets kids who may be scared off from the library because of massive fines.