Officials at the Guelph Public Library say they were “blown off their feet” by the number of people who came in to return overdue books at their Amnesty Day on Monday.
Library patrons were able to return overdue items free of charge and have the fines wiped from their accounts for Amnesty Day. According to the library over 7,900 items worth about $15,000 were returned to the library’s collection.
Items returned ranged from books and DVDs just a few days overdue to one volume, titled 'Painters and Public Life in 18th Century Paris,' that was checked out in 1998.
“It was 16 years overdue,” Guelph Library CEO Kitty Pope said. “The person had been working on a research project in high school and then had moved a couple of times. We lost track of her as her address changed.”
But she was among the first people through the door on Amnesty Day, Pope said.
“We reinstated her library card, and she happily borrowed an armful of books,” Pope said. “As she left, she said, ‘Truly, I will have these back in less than three weeks.’ ”
Had 'Painters and Public life' been returned on a normal day at the library, the overdue fee for the borrower would’ve been over $1,400. That intimidating figure is one of the reasons the library occasionally has amnesty days, Pope said.
“We do it because folks that have really overdue items are afraid to come back to us,” she said. “A mom said,' I’ve had this overdue fine for a really long time and now my children can’t get library books or a library card.' Those are the people for whom we need to do fine amnesty irregularly, so that those people can have the slate cleaned and come back to us… because we know that they are big users.”