Dallas bookworms owe the city’s library system nearly $3 million in fines and missing materials, with more than 25,000 accounts so overdue they’ve been referred to a collection agency, according to a review of the city’s library database by the Morning News. Compounding the problem is a Dallas library policy that permits patrons to check out as many as 250 books at one time. That’s more than five times the number permitted by most major library systems in the United States.
Mayor Laura Miller said, “To let anyone walk in and take 250 books at a clip is not responsible. It’s a high risk on expensive items.” Nearly 300 library patrons owe more than $500 in overdue fines, and 56 owe more than $1,000. The largest outstanding account tops $3,800. The 10 most delinquent accounts have an average 100 overdue materials each. Library officials say their database doesn’t tally the number of overdue books at any one time. The number of overdue library accounts is proportionally tiny–722,000 people have Dallas library cards–and has remained steady over the years, library officials say.