In Favor of Library Amnesty Days

Barbara Vey -- September 16th, 2010

When I was a kid, it was a really big deal to get books back to the library by the due date.  The librarian had that official rubber date stamper that was set for precisely 3 weeks and woe be it onto the person who failed to have their book back on the shelf (where it belonged) after that time period.  “They’re are others besides you, young lady, who want to enjoy Little Women.”  So I had the calendar marked, and rushed to read every book before I had to give it back.  That was then…this is now.


Everyone’s life seems to move like a speeding bullet.  Hurry to this, don’t be late for that, and talk on the phone going and coming.  Hard to remember to return a library book sometimes and according to my local library, people are more likely to consider it the norm to have to pay the fine.  And the libraries are glad for the extra income.  (I always considered my fines to be donations to the library.)   It’s when people feel it will cost too much that they hold on to the books and just never return them.   Which is why I love amnesty dates.  It gives a person a chance to get that book that’s been used to prop open the laundry room door out of their house.  Finally…and at no cost.  It also adds to the libraries collection and gives more opportunities to patrons to read that sometimes obscure book they’ve been looking for.


I found this article on Yahoo the other day and since I love a happily ever after and wanted to share it with you.


Librarians at Winona Public Library were thrilled this week when someone returned a book that had been checked out some 35 years ago. The book is called “Small Voices: A Grownup’s Treasury of Selections from the Diaries, Journals and Notebooks of Young Children.” It’s a collection of journal entries that prominent public figures had written as children. Someone left it in the library’s drop-box as part of the its Amnesty Week for overdue books.

Reference librarian Robin DeVries said she’s thrilled to get it back.

Records suggest it was checked out in the early 1970s. But because the circulation system has since changed, it’s not clear who last checked it out.

The Winona Daily News said the overdue fine would have been more than $1,400.


Now I’m not sure who would want to read Small Voices: A Grownup’s Treasury of Selections from the Diaries, Journals and Notebooks of Young Children,” but it’s comforting to know the book finally made it home.  I’d like to see a national week of Book Amnesty, just to see what would be returned.  Maybe some treasures would show up.  I realize the fines are necessary for the running of the library, but just one week isn’t too much to ask.

Bottom Line: “There are 70 million books in American libraries, but the one I want to read is always out.”  ~Tom Masson


Where I’ll be Next:

Alice Baker Library Event in Eagle, WI – September 25

Emerald City Writers Convention (Seattle) – October 1-3

Lady Jane’s Salon, New York (will MC) – October 4

New York Comic Con - October 8-10

Readers ‘n ‘ritas (Dallas) – November 12-14


Join me on Twitter and Facebook

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