There IS such a think as bad publicity, and a library in Wisconsin demonstrates it. The library evidently turns cases of patrons with long-overdue items over to the local police department for collection. In this case, after the library sent 5 notices, the police department sent 2 notices, including a citation. When the woman received the citation, she returned the books, but didn’t appear in court as ordered. So, according to the newspaper, the police department showed up at her house 3 months later and handcuffed her in front of her children watching out the window.
While the title of the news article — “Overdue items lead to woman’s arrest” — casts the spotlight on the library, the arrest warrant was actually because the woman didn’t appear in court, as ordered. The librarian acknowledges that “It’s embarrassing that someone would go to jail, especially being arrested outside their home, for not returning a book. But, it has happened before, and there is another woman in the same situation.” The news article also quotes the woman as stating the books were the last things on her mind, as both she and her husband had lost their jobs and their van was broke down.
I urge this library, as well as all of us, to review our policies on delinquent accounts. There’s got to be a better way to handle this, when the economic situation of many of the people we exist to serve is crumbling in upon them. There are just so many issues here, and so many points that this whole situation could have been averted. And I wish that the news wouldn’t look for the sensational. It all just makes me sad.