Monday, January 26, 2009

Iowa Town Library Introduces New Program to Discourage Reading

Ms. Koontz shown reading on the big library book.

In a bizarre reversal of two centuries of public policy, an Iowa public library has decided to discourage library patrons from reading. Library patrons who fail to return books in a timely manner are being arrested, prosecuted, and fined. Sherry Koontz was arrested and jailed for failing to return a library book. She was charged with fifth degree theft and required to post a $250 bond before being released from jail. In a private statement, Ms. Koontz said she thought the policy represented overkill. "For several months I had a series of personal problems which caused me to forget to return a library book. Now I have a criminal record. This is the first time I've ever been arrested, except for two instances of lewd behavior in a bar and one instance of engaging in a sexual act in the lobby of a church." said Ms. Koontz. "I attend church every Sunday and teach a Sunday school class for third graders. What will they think when they learn I was arrested for not returning a library book?" (Editor's query: What will they think when they learn she was arrested for fornicating in a church?)

The book is very large and weighs 180 pounds. "I needed to borrow a pick-up truck to take it back. I only borrowed it to use as a step-stool while repainting the interior of my house. I never once opened it the entire time I had it checked out. I thought libraries were supposed to be user friendly. Now I'm being criminally prosecuted by my own library."

An alternative view.

January 24, 2009 AP

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa(AP) An Iowa woman has been arrested because she failed to return a library book.

Thirty-nine-year-old Shelly Koontz was arrested Thursday night on a fifth-degree theft charge. She is accused of keeping "The Freedom Writers Diary," which she checked out from the public library in nearby Jesup in April.

Police say the book _ which is about a high school teacher's effort to inspire students to write _ is valued at $13.95.

Court records show library employees tried repeatedly to contact Koontz by phone and mail. A police officer even visited her home last September.

Officials at the Buchanan County jail say Koontz was released after posting $250 bond. No telephone listing for Koontz could be found in the Independence area.

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