Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Library fines

What do George Washington and Jerry Seinfeld have in common? They both owed big fines to libraries in NYC for overdue books.

Whereas Jerry checking out "Tropic of Cancer" in 1971 and failing to return it was actually just a plot of a classic episode, it appears that our nation's first president actually did check out two library books on October 5, 1789 and fail to return them on November 2.

According to the New York Society Library's informal estimate, President Washington owes approximately $4,577 for the lost copies of "Law of Nations" and the 12th volume of "Common Debates." The fine at the time was 2 pence per day, but now it's fifteen cents.

Anyone else intrigued by how little the overdue fine has gone up in 221 years? I know the fine for overdue books at my local library is quite a bit steeper, at $1 per day. It give you a lot more incentive to return the book on time that way.

Anyway, I don't think the NYSL is going to get their $4577 anytime soon. A better question is whatever happened to those two books?

Have you ever gotten a really big library fine? Do you always return your books on time?


  1. HAH!! Great topic. :D I try reeeeeally hard not to get fines, but it happens occasionally. LOL

  2. I'm such a slacker. I don't even have a library card!

  3. I remember when I graduated college they did a "half price return" week for seniors who would be bankrupt if they had to pay all their fees.

    And you couldn't graduate with outstanding library fees.

    I actually think it was the only time I'd ever returned one late... a book I'd lost behind my couch.

  4. I think everyone who collects old books is frantically looking to see if they have those.

    Also--I thought I was safe from being found out about some old books I never returned since it was before computer tracking. *gulps* I think I had one or two from a Racine, WI library from 1977.