Ian on Jul 18th 2011 at 5:24:06 PM
Last Edited By:
darkemyst on Sep 8th 2017 at 1:52:18 PM
Page Type: Trope
Basic rule of the library: get your books back on time or pay a fine. It's a trivial amount, just 5 cents per day overdue, but what if you forgot to return it for a really, really long time? Years later when you discover said book, a feeling of dread wells up within you. You want to return the book, you really do, but the pennies-a-day have added up, and that late fee is now a four or five figure amount. Doing the right thing is really going to cost you, and don't expect any sympathy from the Scary Librarian.
Rest assured, there is of course, little real-life basis to this trope; libraries cap their fees well below the cost of replacing the book, as they would rather not be inconvenienced with having to do so. Still, for the sake of comedy most shows overlook this.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Hayatethe Combat Butler has Hayate given one of these by his parents, though it's from a video rental store.
- In Big Finish Doctor Who 111 The Doomwood Curse The Sixth Doctor travels through time in order to bring back a book which he had in his possession for over 300 years. He describes the fees the Alexandrians would exact would be "Many and painful."
- In one of the early Bloom County strips, Binkley is visited by a librarian about a copy of Green Eggs and Ham he took out in kindergarten. She is displeased.
- In the Rick Moranis film Big Bully, Moranis' character returns to his old hometown only to discover that the elementary school librarian still remembers him and expects to be compensated for a book (Green Eggs and Ham) he checked out in first grade and never returned.
- Lister's first concern after emerging from a 3 million year cryostasis.
- An unfortunate library patron from an episode of Between the Lions has to pony up. Although considering the library is run by lions, this trope is far from the worst thing that could have happened to him.
- Seinfeld: Jerry is tracked down by a library security officer for a book 20 years overdue. Jerry claims he returned the book but ends up paying the fine, the amount of which is not revealed. (Kramer says that at 5 cents a day it'll be $50,000.)
- Cordelia in Buffy the Vampire Slayer mentions that she had a philosophy book out for a very long time in order to attract college boys. When she had to take it back, the fine was huge.
- According to one report, foreign embassies in the U.K. owe a fortune in late fees for failure to pay a "congestion levy". However, according to some, the levy may violate international law.
- According to this source, George Washington owes $300,000 for some books he didn't return.
- According to the Guinness World Records, the largest fine ever paid was $345.14, the amount owed at two cents a day for the poetry book Days and Deeds checked out of Kewanee Public Library, Illinois, USA in April 1955 by Emily Canellos-Simms. Although the book was due back 19 April 1955, Emily found it in her mother's house 47 years later and presented the library with a check for overdue fines.
- Late Library Books Can Take Toll on Credit Scores - The largest overdue accounts the Queens Library system's professional enforcer can recall have reached $10,000.
- There was a fine of over 10,000 Pounds for a book that was returned 288 years overdue. Since the borrower was long dead, the fine was waived.
- The Dallas Library system briefly experimented with having warrants issued for overdue books. It was not a popular policy. Other systems have tried it as well: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/arrest-warrants-issued-overdue-books
- In Pajama Sam 3: You Are What You Eat From Your Head to Your Feet, the penalty for having an overdue library book is 400 dollars a day. When Sam lampshades this, the librarian screams at him to just have the book back in time.
- An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog had Courage try to pay several thousand dollars for an overdue library book. To make matters worse, the Scary Librarian cursed the book causing it to turn whoever touched it into characters from said book (It turned Eustace into a pirate and Muriel into a pixie).
- The first episode of The Amazing World of Gumball has Gumball keeping the DVD of "Alligators on a Train" long enough to owe a $700 plus late fee.
- Played with in the Doctor Who animated story The Infinite Quest: The Doctor visits a prison planet and is arrested for a number of crimes including planetary demolition and overdue library books and is given a sentence of 2 billion years. The Fake Governor quips: "He really should have taken back those library books!"
- : One episode has Arthur lose a popular library book he had just checked out. One night he dreams that the librarian punishes him by forcing him to have a giant and extremely long chain attached to the book, which she can reel back in (along with him) anytime so he doesn't lose another. Yikes! Good thing it was just a dream.
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