Wisconsin library to accept animal photos in lieu of fines for damaged books

A library in Wisconsin announced an innovative new policy for the handling of damaged materials. Instead of paying a fine, library patrons can share a picture of the culprit.

“We understand that library materials can look delicious to pets and young children, so the Middleton Public Library has unveiled a new policy for fatally chomped materials,” said the Middleton Public Library in an April 29 post on its Facebook page.

Middleton is a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin.

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“In lieu of payment for the item, we would like to offer you the option of submitting a photo of the beloved culprit,” said the library, along with a dog emoji.

Since the policy was announced, four “chompers” have taken advantage of it, deputy library director Katharine Clark told Fox News Digital this week in an email.

From left to right, Daisy, Quik, Ward, and Sky were all featured on the Middleton Public Library’s Facebook page after they each ate a book their owners checked out from the library. (Courtesy Middleton Public Library)

The first, Daisy, ate a copy of “The Guest,” by B.A. Paris.

The second was Quik, an American water spaniel, whose choice of chomping material was not revealed.

The third was Ward, a goldendoodle who ate a book about yoga — and finally Sky, an Australian labradoodle who chomped on “Iron Flame” by Rebecca Yarros.

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“So far, all of our book chompers have been dogs, but we look forward to the diversity of animals we may see,” said Clark, noting that the library typically sees about two books a month that suffer damage from pets.

The new policy and subsequent posts were inspired by another library’s offer to waive fines in exchange for a photo of a cat, Clark told Fox News Digital.

“While the Middleton Public Library no longer has late fees for overdue materials, we do charge for lost or damaged materials,” she said.

The Middleton Public Library is located in Middleton, Wisconsin. It does not charge fines for overdue items — and will accept animal pictures instead of a fee for replacing a damaged item.  (Google Maps)

Clark continued, “Quickly the conversation turned to the frequency of materials actually damaged by our furry friends, and we thought it would be fun to adapt this fine forgiveness program to showcase these ‘offenders.'”

Libraries, said Clark, “still have a lingering reputation for being places of sternness and punishment.People often approach us with a damaged item thinking that their library privileges will be revoked forever!”

This, she said, is not true, noting “we are all human and understand that accidents happen; we would never want one damaged item to destroy someone’s relationship with the library.”

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And while the photos of pets are fun for social media followers, they have had additional benefits for library patrons, she said.

“When staff can present this photo option to a distraught patron, this exchange can go a long way to creating a positive and lasting relationship with the library,” said Clark.

The library’s Facebook post about Sky was shared nearly 500 times, with many people saying that they, too, wanted to “chomp” the book when they were finished with it.  (Courtesy Middleton Public Library)

Although Sky was the fourth “chomper” to be featured by the library, the post about his misdeed garnered far more attention than the others.

The Facebook post was shared nearly 500 times, with many people defending Sky’s actions.

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“Sky just did what we all wanted to do after finishing ‘Iron Flame,’” said one Facebook user.

“I mean, that book frustrated me, too. Sky is innocent,” said another.

“Australian labradoodles are EXTREMELY smart so I am sure Sky read it,” wrote another Facebook user.

Others said they were now going to follow the library’s Facebook page to see additional photos of dogs.

“I’m here for this type of puppy shaming,” said a Facebook user.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

Christine Rousselle is a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital.

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