They paid $1,552 for library books 31,046 days overdue – and want to keep them longer

First, let it be said that the Kramer family never intended to be library scofflaws.


The four Kramer children loved their local branch library in Rockville, Maryland, and visited it often when they were growing up in suburban Washington in the 1960s and ’70s. Their parents, described by son Jon as freethinkers and avid readers, checked out books on all manner of topics, including camping tips and vegetarian cooking.

“Unlike less enlightened folks, we loved our library! So much so in fact that we apparently absconded with part of it,” Jon Kramer wrote to Montgomery County Library Director Parker Hamilton on Thanksgiving Day.

As Kramer tells it, he was searching through his deceased parents’ library at their vacation cabin in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area along the Minnesota-Ontario border in early November, when he found two books, each borrowed more than 42 years ago.

Kramer made a quick calculation. He figured the books had been missing from the public library shelves for 31,046 days, and at a 1970s-era fine rate of a nickel a day, he figured family owed the library $1,552.30.

Late fines for books from the Montgomery County libraries now max out at $15, but Kramer didn’t mind ratcheting up the fee. He wrote a check and a letter.

“Every year, we think about what we can do to make the world a little better around Thanksgiving time,” Kramer said in an interview.

Hamilton said she was happy to get the donation, which she can use to buy multiple books. More importantly, she and other librarians were delighted by…

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