Judge orders woman to return two library books or go to jail


A judge has ordered JoAn Karkos of Lewiston, Maine to return two copies of It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, which she checked out the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries last year.

In September, Karkos sent letters to the libraries, including checks to pay for the cost of the books. The letters said, in part, “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books.”

The judge has ordered Karkos, who is being held in contempt of court, to return the books and pay a $100 fine by Friday at 4pm. If she doesn't comply, she'll be arrested.

In 2007, NPR reported on the incident, providing several links, including a link to a letter Karkos wrote to the Sun Journal.

Lewiston Woman Facing Jail Over Book


  1. Of course she has the right to decide for others, what books they should not read.

    Bye for now. I’m off to my library to get every copy of the Bible and the Koran and the Torah.

  2. Two times “others” – duh – the second “others” should be “they”. Can a Moderator fix this?

  3. Speaking as a librarian I can only say, GOOD.

    She stole these books (refusing, not just forgetting, to return a library item after the due date is theft) and then tried to buy off her crime.

    I can’t recall it off hand, but there was something of a meme running in Victorian england wherein well-to-do young men would go on property crime sprees and then had mum and dad pay for the damage. The Hellfire Club perhaps? This reminds of me of that.

    She’s better than the people who cut “offensive” materials out of books with X-acto knives and straight-razors, but not by much.

    The slippery slope here is that deep pocketed types could simply check out materials they don’t like, pay for them and fund a sort of private censorship. Materials, especially ones related to sexual development, abuse and other “touchy” social issues need to be available. It can take weeks or even months to repurchase, reprocess and get a book back on the shelves.

    I hope they throw the books at her.

  4. Reminds me of the librarian drawing shorts on the little boy in “Where the Wild Things Are” when I was a kid.

  5. Headline should be “Judge orders woman to return two CENSORED library books.” Obviously she stole them for the purpose of preventing others from reading them.

    I once worked in a library with a librarian who felt that same urge to “protect” library patrons from the books. She’d deliberately mis-classify books about sex to get them shelved on the second floor of the libary. The reasoning was apparently that horny teenagers would be unwilling to walk up one flight of stairs to see pictures about sex.

  6. How can a book about puberty be abnormal (as in deviating from the norm)? It’d be the people who didn’t experience puberty (poor poor folks) who’d be considered abnormal.

    Amoral I can understand, shame over your sexual functions and organs s cpyrght 1 D by th cthlc chrch.

  7. Yes, the woman’s a fool, but the library should just replace the books and be done with it.

    No one should steal library books, but it happens all the time. Sometimes because they’re rare, sometimes because they’re expensive, sometime because people are just plain forgetful. In this case it sure sounds like they’re making an example of her because they don’t like her particular reasons for taking the books. Is it worse to take a book because it has “offensive” content than because it’s valuable? If she’d simply lied and claimed the books were lost or damaged when she sent in those checks, would she be fighting it out in court?

  8. If she is offended by the content of those books, I can only assume she hasn’t been introduced to the internet thingamabob.

    Thank goodness.

  9. Sheesh. What is the big deal. So, she decided to keep a couple of books. Simple. The library charges her the “lost book” fee. Library uses the fee to buy two fresh copies. That lady can sleep safe and sound knowing that she actually helped purchase two new copies of the book, generating more profit for the publisher and author (that should get her mad). Case closed — as long as she pays her fine.

    Really, this should be no different from any other case where people cannot return library books. Motive should not be relevant. Pay the fine, replace the books, life goes on.

    1. Motive should not be relevant.

      Then you won’t mind being tried for murder if you accidentally cause someone’s death? Motive is at the heart of our legal system.

  10. Frakking religious freaks.

    Some days I really hate Christians, other days I’m more forgiving and will admit that I’m just guessing that she’s a Christian and am slandering a whole faith on the basis of the offensive actions of a small few.

    This is not a “forgiving day”.

    Frakking Christians.

    -abs still thinks adding a sentence here is dumb, and wishes he didn’t have to, but isn’t willing to sign off without an “-abs” even if Takuan can figure out who wrote this post by looking at the attribution up top. *waves at Takuan*

  11. The way I see it, the woman was actually doing the publisher and author of those books a favor.

    She keeps the copies, pays the library their cost, the library buys replacements—voila, two more copies sold.

    Not to mention the extra publicity they get. I’m sure a bunch of people will be going to check them out or buy them now just to see what’s so “bad” about them.

  12. Reminds me of an Unshelved week-long episode wherein Dewey the librarian held a Banned Books Week. Anyone could choose to ban a book for any reason, including that it was written by your ex or that it was too heavy.

    They ended up with only 2 unbanned (non-banned?) books left on the shelves.

  13. Old people can be funny at times. The brain fails and they can do some pretty wierd stuff. Dear god, where’s my diamondplex nanoweb brain augment!

  14. She’s better than the people who cut “offensive” materials out of books with X-acto knives and straight-razors, but not by much.

    Really? Never heard of that childish practice. Talk about pissing into the wind.

  15. Of course, when she says: “I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will not be returning the books,” I hear ““I have been sufficiently aroused of the illustrations and sexually graphic, amoral, abnormal contents. I will be enjoying the books in the privacy of my own home while leaning against my unbalanced washing machine during the spin cycle.”

  16. When it comes to lost material, fines and other monetary exchanges with the library, I’m completely on the side of live and let live. A library I worked had a regular “amnesty” food drive. If you brought in a can of food for every dollar you owed they cleared your fines. Yeah, we ended up with a lot of canned corn and squash, but the the good will from the community, positive press and food for the local shelter were all good. Other libraries offer simple “no-questions/no-fines” returns on books that have been out for months on end. Libraries don’t make money from fines and no sensible librarian enjoys them. We just want the materials back in a timely fashion so other people can enjoy them. It’s a very simple social compact.

    What this woman did was steal materials and try to buy off her crime. She made her body-hating issues the library’s problem and she should be taken to task for it. Processing and ordering books takes time and resources above and beyond simply paying for the book. And again, allowing this to go unanswered with a loud clear “NO” only encourages fools like this. What about materials that can’t be easily replaced?

  17. gosh, I really hate it when the “Mary Whitehouse” types try to impose their values upon the rest of the population.

  18. The library should, of course, buy new books pronto and put them on the shelf.

    They should also prosecute this woman to the absolute width and depth that the system will allow.

    She does not get to decide what the community sees.

    Letting this slide under “this happens all the time” implies approval, and increases the incline on the very slippery slope to privately-funded censoring…which is a terrifying concept.

  19. “Yes, the woman’s a fool, but the library should just replace the books and be done with it.”

    I’ve got friends at the Seattle Public library and we were just talking about this recently. We were on a backpacking trip and one of us brought along a library book which got wet and destroyed. I mentioned that she could just buy a replacement book for the library and no harm no foul. Apparently this isn’t how it works. A large public library system buys books in lots, and needs to reach a critical mass of missing or destroyed books before contacting the publisher for replacements.

    This is why you can sometimes be on the waiting list for a book for months. When a library first buys the lot, it will be easy to get. Over time books come out of circulation until there’s only a handful left and they become hard to get.

    Sadly, the fact that this woman sent in a check for her stolen goods does nothing to get that book back in circulation. She’ll need to steal at least 90% of them before the library system repurchases.

  20. That book is one of the best for learning about sexual health! It actually treats it like the title claims… as normal. It’s very inclusive of all walks of life, and treats sexualities as my friend Mark once famously said: “Sex… it’s what people do!”

  21. #9: “Yes, the woman’s a fool, but the library should just replace the books and be done with it.”

    I think you meant to finish that up with “…replace the books and be done with it until she does it again.” You just know the old bat is checking for fresh copies every time she drives by the library.

  22. does anyone know who wrote post #12?

    As to the young lady; she wishes a martyr-ship, who’ll chip in for a stake?

  23. @Seattlepete:

    That’s a very good point. Though depending on the system the can replace books more quickly.

    I worked for a large system and we had to replace “A Child Called It” several times during my tenure. It’s a popular book for young adults and it’s quite often stolen or not returned or claimed lost and billed. The book is a pretty horrific story of abuse and like “Go Ask Alice” it’s a book that, in some cases, provides a lot of solace to kids in bad home situations.

    In addition, library editions of books are more expensive (binding is tougher) and depending on the tech services set up (in-house, from a jobber) processing adds more money to the cost. Buying in bulk cuts that down, but replacing a single book one at a time can be a pain.

  24. Why was someone not able to deal with this woman? She obviously has serious problems, and the buck should’ve stopped somewhere before this got national media attention. Plenty of crazy old people are prevented from harming the outside world. Where are this woman’s children? What have the library staff not corrected this problem?

    This is just dysfunctional society rubbing up against dysfunctional society, and we all get to watch.

  25. The judge should require her to write the definition of “amoral” and “immoral” 100 times as well*.

    *Yes, she could’ve meant “amoral” but given her other claims about these books corrupting the youth, I’d wager she meant “immoral”.

  26. @25:

    Do you really think this library wanted any attention for this?

    Having dealt with people like this, private censors, in the past they tend to be intractable types.

    Think of the mindset necessary to check books out simply to deny others the chance to read them. I’d wager they tried to settle this amicably on a number of occasions.

    Really folks, we just want the books back.

  27. I’m in complete agreement with #4.

    This is an insult to the democratic principles behind the establishment of free libraries, and needs to be addressed thusly.

    Any deep-pocketed free thinkers want to donate some books to the library system in question?

  28. As a librarian I was always amazed that people do this type of thing under the guise of being a “good Christian”….HELLO!!!! YOU ARE STEALING AND BREAKING ONE OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!!!

    (there…off my soap box for the time being)

  29. We’ve seen the same thing happen here, but in this case it was videos from a local store. Church groups would rent and keep/destroy certain movies so they couldn’t be watched…their favorites were Gummo and The Tin Drum. I heard the store finally canceled their membership, but they just keep getting other members to join and continue “pruning” the collection. hurray for small towns. :\

  30. This happened at my college. Faculty have unlimited borrowing privileges at the library.

    Good old Father V took out every book on sexual heath and women’s issues years ago and never returned them. They are listed as part of the library catalog, but they are not available for check-out.

    Why is this always Christians? As something of a Christian, it pains me. I don’t recall Jesus saying anything about, “when you disagree with someone, feel free to steal and lie to thwart them.”

  31. I think the library is acting justly in this instance. She blatantly stole books and wrote them a letter stating her reason. If she had just come in and said, “Oh, heavens to Betsy! I seem to have lost those books I checked out!” and pulled the “nice old lady routine,” I’m sure they would have let her slide with just paying replacement cost. This way, she knows they’re not going to take any guff from this old crone.

    Really, though, I think this is all a ruse so the old broad doesn’t have to go to an adult bookstore to get her porn like everybody else.

  32. May I suggest a solution that might satisfy everyone associated with this issue?

    Burn her at the stake in front of the library using the books as fuel.

    She gets her martyrdom whilst keeping the books from causing harm and the rest of us…well, you know…

  33. In her letter linked above, she says that the book

    promotes sexual excitement in children, and gets children past the stage of embarrassment, blush and shame, and engaged in its activities.

    I think it sounds great. If I had kids, I’d buy them a copy based solely on her review.

    Instead, I’m tempted to donate a few copies to my local library and fax her a copy of the receipt, with thanks.

  34. All of this hub-bub makes me wonder what this woman has seen in her lifetime that would make her so fearful of sex and books? Her ideas are antiquated.

    And if she is so concerned with the welfare of children I would be curious to know what she is doing, beyond stealing from the library?

    I would recommend she read a book called FLIRTING WITH DANGER by Lynn Phillips. The first hand accounts of destructive situations young women find themselves in are often attributed to a lack of honest information and sexual/personal empowerment, not because they are over exposed to any kind of media.

  35. @#35:

    Mind you, people like this tend to define children as anyone under the age of 35.

    After looking at the book I’d like to invite this woman to my library. Our books on sexual health for young adults aren’t filled with very kiddie friendly illustrations.

    The one that sets most bluehair’s heads alight is “Deal With it! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL”


    That, and the “Guide to Getting it On”


    Both available @ your library!

  36. “gets children past the stage of embarrassment, blush and shame”

    Because goodness knows that what we need is for teenagers to feel more shame about their bodies, dammit!

  37. #30

    Interesting- look at the preview to page 10. The bee says “sex is in the dictionary!” and the bird says “think I’ll head right over to the library.”

    Just not the Lewiston / Auburn public libraries, I guess…

    I wonder if it would be possible to donate six copies of the book to these libraries. I wish I’d had a copy growing up. My first lecture on sex came from a neighborhood friend, age 11, who informed me that babies happen when a man sticks his penis in a womans anus and urinates.

  38. I just checked the library websites and their catalog is showing that they have copies of the book available. So it would seem that they have restocked this book in some way.

    I sent email to both requesting information about the book’s status. I was interested donating a copy to both libraries. Since they have the book I suppose there is no need… but I am sure if anyone wanted to donate ANY amount to the library they would gladly accept it… but don’t forget you have a local library that is probably hurting for $$ so maybe you should donate there or even visit and borrow a book.

  39. I’ve worked in a public library, and this kind of thing happens all – the – time. In the rural library I worked at, it was the witchcraft books the local church loonies were stealing. After a while they figured out that they were doing nothing but making the publishers more money and stopped.

    This kind of problem requires a grown-up approach to a childish problem. The library should have replaced the book, suspended her library privileges and moved on. It’s part of the cost of doing library business, just like water damage and simple wear and tear. Taking crazy old people to court is just fueling this kind of attention seeking behavior. It certainly won’t teach the perp a lesson and won’t deter a single similarly minded individual. After all, god’s on their side…

  40. don’t you people understand?!? SHE DID IT FOR THE CHILDREN!!! those poor innocent children! ( I am now weeping uncontrollably)

  41. It’s ironic that someone mentioned Go Ask Alice in connection to this article since the woman who write Go Ask Alice, Beatrice Sparks, is a Mormon youth therapist who was using that book and her slew of other made-up “Written by Anonymous” books to deceptively force her moral beliefs on kids. These women should team up. They could write a whole new genre of young adult reality writing.

  42. Allow me to plug a great series of approachable introductions to human sexuality, with cartoon illustrations and straightforward text which answers questions using clear, age-appropriate terminology.

    I’ve read and recommended It’s Perfectly Normal for preteens as part of a sex education class which I teach.

    I was introduced to the series when I picked up It’s So Amazing
    at a library book sale (luckily JoAn didn’t beat me to it 8-). I shared it with a 10-year-old neighbor and her mother who LOVED it and bought their own copy. I then saved it until my son was about 6 1/2. It was his favorite book for awhile and now he goes back to it for reference. It’s an accessible book which has given him the terminology and context to start conversations with his parents about sex. That’s well worth the buck I spent on it, but I would have happily paid the cover price.

    And I just noticed It’s Not the Stork while browsing the other two on Amazon, which gives it the highest rating of the three, so I’ll probably add that to my collection as well.

  43. I realize she’s a crazy old prude, but if she paid the library for the replacement cost of the books, there shouldn’t be any further issue. If the books had been destroyed or lost under her care, that’s all that would have happened anyway.

  44. Just a few suggestions for those of you civic-minded types who want to show your support for free public libraries.

    -Cash donations are great (of course) and many libraries have “donor walls” and “friends of the library” organizations you can donate through.

    -Book donations are good, but consult with the library to see what their needs are. 40 copies of “It’s only natural” is a lovely sentiment.

    -Programming materials. Whether it’s crayons and colored pencils for kids, old A/V equipment for presentations, or simply rolls of drawing paper, it can be very helpful.

    -Your time. Many libraries have to cut back on staff and can always make use of a good volunteer. Even a couple hours a week can really help the shelvers get more done.

    Any donation you make can be made in the name of a person or cause if you like and most libraries will record that in their board minutes.

  45. My mother bought this book for my brother and myself when we were young, and it was great. Not only does it normalize body development and sexual feelings, but it also talks about and normalizes homosexuality (I bet this woman didn’t miss that chapter, either).

    The section that sticks in my mind most vividly is a two-page spread debunking myths about getting pregnant, as in “You can’t get pregnant if…” and there are depictions of young people saying things like, “But she didn’t have an orgasm!” and “But we did it standing up!”

    If anyone has children, I highly recommended this book, either buying a copy or checking it out from your local library to keep it out of the hands of the JoAnn Karkoses of the world.

  46. I’m so glad we have private citizens self-imposing censorship in public libraries to protect the children. Sarcasm aside, there is proper conduct and channels to express your distaste for material rather than what is essentially theft of property but paying for the theft and writing a note to the people you stole from.

    Imagine if someone busted into your house, took all the things they felt were improper, left you a check for what they took and a note explaining how all these things are wrong for you.

    Dang old lady should have just used the public library computers to go online and complain in her blog like everyone else.

  47. I had mentioned this on Fark…

    It’d be amusing to get an Amazon book drive or some other type of drive to purchase hundreds of copies of the book for the library. Enough to fill up entire bookcases.

  48. @ #12 ABSIMILIARD

    Granted I only skimmed through the links… but where does it say she is a Christian? Or are you just making giant assumptions and blaming entire groups of people who might not have anything to do with this story?

  49. @51:

    Not amusing at all. Speaking as someone who had to turn away copies of every Harry Potter book (we have plenty of copies) on a pretty much daily basis whenever a new one came out, I can tell you there is such a thing as too much generosity!

  50. #52

    Hi Banjology,

    I thought I made it clear I was in an unforgiving mood and was therefore making a blanket assumption that slandered a large group of people on the basis of the erratic behavior of an individual.

    If I didn’t let me restate it.

    I am assuming she’s a crazy Christian. I assume this on the basis of the other crazy Christians I know. I do not mean to imply that there are no crazy people in other religions, nor do I imply that you have to be crazy to be Christian. (though it certainly seems to help with the evanelist fringe)

    Basically, yes, I’m a bad person. Live with it.

    But I’ll slap $5 down on the virtual table and bet you she is a Christian, and you’d be a fool to take it.

    -abs is NOT in a forgiving mood where Christians are involved today since he just got the whole “Convert or die in hell, I’ll pray for you” speech from his brother on an answering machine message, again. *sigh* I seriously wish he’d never converted, broke my mom’s heart.

  51. @47

    “I realize she’s a crazy old prude, but if she paid the library for the replacement cost of the books, there shouldn’t be any further issue. If the books had been destroyed or lost under her care, that’s all that would have happened anyway.”

    But you see the law often takes into account the intent of the perpetrator, and not just in cases of crazy oldies stealing books.

    For example, I hit my neighbour on my street with my car accidentally, is entirely different from hitting him with intent to harm him. Telling the cops afterwards that I did it because I hate him only makes their job easier.

    Similarly, misplace the book is entirely different from stealing it. Libraries do not have the resources to investigate why books go missing so they tend to take your words for it. But if she admits that she stole them, then there’s no reason why she should not be reported and prosecuted for her theft.

  52. Banjology,
    We all know that Christians are the only people in the world who have these repressive hangups and restrictions around sexuality (except for that religion that starts with an “I”, and a few others).

  53. Dear JoAn Karkos
    Thanks for bringing “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health” to my attention. I have ordered a copy for my kids.
    Gratefully Hal

  54. @absimiliard:

    Are they going to interrupt radio and tv broadcasts with changes in your mood? Perhaps an iphone app with a color-coded alert system?

    Plenty of Christians use and support the library with gusto. In fact, home-schooling religious folks make up a very healthy portion of our patron base and regularly go to bat for libraries on funding.

  55. TRR,
    Its hard to take your point seriously when you say that Christianity is the ONLY religion that feels this way, then mention that there are in fact OTHERS as well…

  56. @MGFarrelly (hope I didn’t get the capitalization wrong)

    When I’m in a more forgiving mood, which is most days, I’ll readily admit there are a great and vast majority of good people who are Christian. Alas they are typically a SILENT majority who let the whackos filled with hate run their churches and dominate public discourse.

    Jesus sounds like a really nice guy. And those who actually follow what he said are generally pretty good folk too. But in my experience most Christians don’t follow Jesus nearly as much as they do the Old Testament. And that Old Testament God is a right bastard with plenty of evil things he demands from his followers.

    But as I said, I’m not in a forgiving mood at the moment. So it’s stereotypes and bad generalizations all around. Try talking with me when my born-again brother hasn’t been badgering me recently and I’ll probably have a very different approach. But for now I’ll note instead how very few people who wear a WWJD bracelet actually do anything Jesus would approve of.

    -abs is still not fond of Christianity and thinks it should probably be called Paulism or OldTestamentianity instead, since very few Christians he’s ever met have been very Christ-like.

  57. ectually Quantax old boy, don’tchaknew, it’s the intelligent that really fear words. Any jackass can buy bullets.

  58. The only thing wrong about this situation is that jail is not the right place for this person. She needs to be put somewhere she can get help. We use to have mental institutions, but they were horrible places. Instead of fixing them, we got rid of them. Now people with mental problems end up in prison, on the streets, or stealing library books. We desperate need a way to get these people help without just locking them up.

  59. I bet there is a really interesting story behind this woman’s actions. I wonder what life experiences led to this worldview?
    Kind of sad she can’t see how destroying the books is wrong, but it is a pretty funny story, too. Did the librarians call the cops? Did they insist on charging her? Couldn’t they have just suspended her library card for a month?


    Sheesh. What is the big deal. So, she decided to keep a couple of books. Simple. The library charges her the “lost book” fee. Library uses the fee to buy two fresh copies. That lady can sleep safe and sound knowing that she actually helped purchase two new copies of the book, generating more profit for the publisher and author (that should get her mad). Case closed — as long as she pays her fine.

    Because it sets a horrific precedent that could lead to other “moral authorities” doing the same thing across the nation which leads to a ridiculous sell/buy cycle that the library should not be involved in. Can you imagine, lunatics across the country organizing fund raising drives to support their “actions” to remove unwanted books from shelves of public libraries?

    It’s the a can or worms opened by the thin edge of the wedge on a slippery slope.

    The fact that she is stating her moral reasons for stealing these books should really get her locked up. It’s abuse of a public resource and harassment in the least.

  61. could we get them help by jailing the crack dealers, the $cientologists, the evangelicals and the others that prey on the vulnerable?

  62. @absimiliard:

    45 years ago today Martin Luther King made a really fine point, lots of them really, about judging people on the content of their character. That’s my preferred manner of thinking.

    I tend to avoid generalizations (librarianship is all about specificity after all) when I can. Even the benign and (almost) wholly accurate ones are just lazy thinking.

    And aside; When some very angry Christians complained about “The God Delusion” at a board meeting I was one of the librarians who spoke in favor of it. I’m a Unitarian by the way.

    The answer to speech isn’t censorship, private or otherwise, but more speech.

  63. She is being made an example of, and rightfully so, apparently, if this behavior is as common as suggested. These people are too glaringly stupid/ignorant to understand what they’re doing is wrong, so apparently sterner methods must be enacted to help them “get” it.

    *shakes head*

  64. @MGFarrelly

    Darn right about the answer to speech not being censorship. I’m a huge free-speech proponent, in fact I like all the rights in the Bill of Rights.

    Generally I try to avoid generalizations. But when I read a story like this I really do make the assumption, based on her actions and appearance, that the woman in question is a Christian. Maybe she’s not, and surely my generalization will prove false at some point. But for now, I’m gonna stick with my bet.

    As for judging people on their character, I think that means judging them on their actions. I find this woman’s actions, and therefore her character, despicable. (not that I haven’t been despicable in my weaker moments as well, most of us probably have been)

  65. Hrmm. I hope the library uses the money she gave them and buys new copies, AND then buys a few more copies with the money from her fine, too. :)

  66. @absimiliard: “As for judging people on their character, I think that means judging them on their actions. I find this woman’s actions, and therefore her character, despicable.”

    I think what she did is terrible, and speaks of some very serious issues regarding sex and the body.

    I think everyone has been guilty of making a generalization, even the most scrupulous amongst us. It’s just a good thing to avoid.

    Think of it this way, specificity and focus only strengthen your arguments. “those people” and “all the…” statements just leave openings for the outlier. A tactic the neo-cons have been using for years.

  67. Where is Mr. Bookman when you need him?

    “Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y’know that little stamp, the one that says “New York Public Library”? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot.

    Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn’t HE deserve better?

    Look- if you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that’s how you get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well, I’ve got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y’got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!”

  68. @MGFarrelly [i]I think what she did is terrible, and speaks of some very serious issues regarding sex and the body.[/i]

    I’ve been thinking about this damn so much that I’m now starting to feel sorry for her.

    Imagine living your life that frakked up. Must be horrible to be so hung up over sex and bodies that it causes you to do stuff like this. I mean, how messed up do you have to be to refuse orders to return the books to the point where you end up in court?

    That’s seriously sad.

    -abs, who still isn’t forgiving where Christians are concerned, but is starting to feel sorry for this poor old lady, not for the consequences of her actions, but for how F*cked up she must be. Damn, I hate empathy.

  69. all right, “Abs”, you are not fooling anyone. What have you done with the real Absimiliard?! Best confess now and we’ll go easy on you. Does he know you are doing this?

  70. 1) Include the whole, real cost of processing and replacing stolen books. (Staff time, single-ordering cost/fee, shipping, cataloging, barcoding, labelling, shelving — everything. Plus fines.)

    2) Evaluate whether the book should be restocked — in some cases it may have been obsolete/culled anyway.

    3) Order replacements if desired.

    4) If out of print, order from rare/used bookseller, charge appropriately, if exhorbitantly priced, so be it. If irreplacable, charge insurance sort of “damages”.

    5) Prosecute, when the person tells you they’re stealing the book.

    Have all this clearly stated in the library’s rules, charter, mission statement…

  71. *laughs with Takuan*

    Yeah, I’ll admit empathy isn’t my normal mode of operation. Probably goes to show that I am thinking about this one wayyyyy too much.

    Maybe I should just think less.

    -abs is running out of things to append to his “sig” to make it into a sentence, drat!

  72. Much as I hate to casually toss the “N” word around- and that would be Nazi, not the other one- I have a really, REALLY low opinion of people who want to control what other people think by destroying what they might read. Perhaps she would be happier living in some crapulent fascist regime where this stupidity is tolerated, but none comes to mind at the moment. Frankly, I hope they lock her scrawny ass up; they should be careful to limit her unsupervised access to the prison library, however…

  73. In the case of my local library system, librarians usually prefer that you replace the missing book, as the lost book fine usually goes straight to the county rather than whatever fund replaces the lost books.

  74. from the letter she wrote to the Sun Journal:

    “Innocence is stolen and minds are imprinted with activities that rob children of the natural progression of sexual investigation.”

    So…how do they figure out what pregnancy is?

  75. TRR,
    ha, point taken. As the old saying goes, sarcasm in text is sometimes hard to pick up on, but its a relief that it wasn’t serious :-)

  76. After reading everyone’s comments, what strikes me is the abject futility of her actions. Abs is absolutly correct, she becomes pathetic. Hell, most people don’t even read.

  77. you don’t have to teach children in Lewiston, Maine about sexuality. Half the girls are pregnant by the time they graduate high school.

    It’s funny just how often I see local news on BoingBoing. First the giant sewer blob down the street from me, now this.

  78. have the appropriate authorities looked into if she has had children in her custody? And have they commenced the prosecution?

  79. Interesting point SquirrelGirl. I wonder if there’s something about Maine . . . then I think of the vastness of the midwest and the Rockies states and I think, “Nope, pretty much like most states”.

    We’re all crazy in our own ways. The “Red States” are crazy in one way, the “Blue States” are cray in different ways. There’s a lot of Americans who will approve of what this woman did, and possibly even be outraged.

    So I’d say my first, slightly snarky, response is wrong. Nothing unusual about Maine at all.

    Well, except for Bangor that is. That’s such a bad joke inducing name that everyone who came up with it should be shot for incompetance. Or possibly applauded for the best practical joke evar.

    I’m not sure which.

    -abs wonders how “babs” could possibly be an improvement on perfection, besides, he doesn’t look a thing like Barbara Bush, no really, I don’t, do I? *sticks tongue out at Antinous*

  80. I truly believe she has a cross-stitched sampler on her wall that reads, in large red letters:
    “It was a pleasure to burn.”

  81. @absimiliard:

    I don’t think you should change a thing. With a handle that recalls the most evil of the antediluvians you already have heaping helpings of my geek respect.

  82. *bows in awe at the overly perceptive MGFarrelly*

    Come down to my parlor in Waltham, MA some time and we’ll play a game with my wife, old rules, none of this new-fangled crap….

    Or I’ll eat you.

    -abs wonders if childer that figure things out should be rewarded for cleverness, or eaten as threats….

  83. Maine is, and will always be, goddamn hilarious. There’s seriously nothing to do up there most of the time, so people build windmills, and make solar lawnmowers, and go swimming in January, and hide bathroom doors and stab each other and make bomb threats for no reason at all. These are just the things I know about. They’re just bored.

    Someone, anyone, send me an email and I’ll write out every story I can think of from living in Maine. They’re hilarious. Please. Do it. mustardhamsters at gmail.

  84. wonders if childer that figure things out should be rewarded for cleverness, or eaten as threats….

    Depends on the childe. :)

    And boo to that new rules nonsense. Give me maddeningly complex over-arching meta-plot or give me something vaguely similar!

    (Apologies to anyone reading this who is not familiar with the wonderfully dorky complexities of late 1990’s White Wolf gaming)

  85. Problem:
    I know several have pointed out that replacing the books will enrichen the publisher and the author, and thus defeating the freakazoid’s purpose. Unfortunately, as others have also pointed out, this will mean that the books are out of circulation for weeks. And when the books finally are replaced, the woman can just do the same thing over again.

    Proposed solution:
    Charge an ‘administrative replacement fee’ to the cost of replacing the books. The fee would be equal to the cost of one book. So for two lost books of $value, the woman pays $(4*value). Now, use the money to purchase four new books. It’s easy to see that after a few cycles of this, the woman should either be bankrupt, all her storage space will be filled with books, or she will be gibbering uncontrollably in a padded room.

    To illustrate: Assume the books in question costs $20 apiece, and that it takes 2 weeks to replace them. After 36 weeks of this, here total expenditure will be over 1 million dollars. After only one year of this, she will be spending over 2.6 billion dollars per fortnight. No one, and certainly not some backwoods morality wackjob, can sustain that sort of outlay.

    Once her bankruptcy point is reached, throw the book at her. Now she won’t be facing charges for a couple of library books, she will be facing charges for massive theft of public property.

    Lock her away for a long time, donate the books to primary schools around the country.

    Result: Children get to learn about sex, the author and publisher get stinking rich, she gets to be a martyr. Everybody happy.

  86. Look at the comments at the NPR link

    I praise God for JoAn Karkos’s righteous act. She is doing what a true Christian is called to do. And she shall be rewarded by the Father. But some will reap what they sow both in this life and the life to come.


    I have this book, which I have read cover to cover, and intend to give to my nine-year old daughter. Too many people in this country have the backward notion that information on reproductive health and sexuality will automatically drive children/teens to become sexually active. If you raise your children with a positive moral code and clear expectations, you have done all you can do. I would rather my children be sexually active with the proper information and knowledge to protect their health and emotional well-being, than to foolishly lose their virginity with ignorance, unsafe practices, and emotional distress. Parents cannot control their childrens’ sexuality or sexual activity. They can only hope that they have raised them to be proactive about their health and behavior, and that they will make rational choices. Give them the tools to do that – which means NOT leaving them in a cloud of ignorance.”

    Two different people managed to make me sad and proud within minutes of each other. Humanity is a nutty bunch.

  87. HAhahahaha
    if you dont want to read it dont read it.
    people arent babies or stupid fucks. we are all cpaple of understanding right and wrong. so never ever take it into your own hands to determine whos able to see what.

  88. What Ezat failed to mention is that we have problems with grammar, spelling and punctuation.
    Nothing sinks even the best argument faster than speaking Inglish real goodly.

  89. If she is a Christian, she’s clearly one of the ones that forgot Jesus 1) sat down with prostitutes and 2) had his VERY OWN penis. We know he had a penis, specifically, because as a good Jew, he had the foreskin cut off, and this was reported in the Gospels. (Multiple churches have claimed to have said foreskin as a holy relic. The things you learn in college, huh? I personally think “By the thirteen foreskins of Jesus Christ!” would be a fantastic oath – in the swearword sense, of course.)

    Clearly she’s one of the same folks who thinks abstinence-only sex education is a good idea, even though it leads to more teen pregnancy, more abortions, and more STDs. Jesus would be SO proud. Having shot yourself in the foot, you’re now only four wounds away from having stigmata!

    /Christian with a sense of humor and a much higher tolerance for sex than for idiocy

  90. Some days I really hate Christians, other days I’m more forgiving and will admit that I’m just guessing that she’s a Christian and am slandering a whole faith on the basis of the offensive actions of a small few.

    Well, I’m glad you’re at least owning up to the fact that you’re ignorant on some days.

    As to this woman, does she not get the irony of the fact that she’s deciding societal values for others in order to protest people deciding societal values for othes? I’m guessing not.

    I say great, jail her. Or make her do community service, or fine her, or in some way punish her. Make sure people know that this kind of censorship just isn’t okay.

  91. Ths wcky rlgs zlts wll g t prtty grt lngths t nsr tht cnsrshp stys lv.

    Gd fr y, Grnny, y’r jst lk htlr, th spnsh cnqstdrs, nd th qn dynsty! Brn ths dmn snnr’s bks!

    h, nd thnks fr wstng tx pyr’s dllrs nd th vlbl tm f th crt systm wth yr frvls ‘ths tw bks wll chng th wrld’ cs. f thr ctlly ws hll, ‘d mplr y t g thr. Bt thr’s nt, y’r crzy! Y’r sffrng cms frm n sly cntrlld mnd, nd pty y. Th mllns nd mllns f y. Thr s n gd.

  92. Just so everyone knows… the library received eight, count ’em, eight copies of said book when the story broke here in Lewiston.

    So much for Mrs. Karkos’ plan to “save the children: :)

  93. @AndrewW

    Well, I’m glad you’re at least owning up to the fact that you’re ignorant on some days.

    Please, “ignorant” isn’t the word your looking for, “bigoted” is.

    I assure you that after going to high-school on a Catholic Monastery, doing time as an Anglican, attending Catholic grade-school, and as a born-again when I was younger, the word “Ignorant” does not describe my relationship to Christianity in the least.

    I know Christianity’s history, and I know a lot of bad “Christians”, that’s why “Hate-filled bigot” is a much better descriptive of my status vis a vis Christianity than “ignorant” is.

    (In the spirit of not lying I also know some Christians who are excellent people of great moral character that I admire greatly, and I know some seriously messed up atheists and agnostics, like me for example, who are not.)


    -abs does not being mis-identified as ignorant of Christianity, he knows far too much about it and hates it because of that knowledge not due to a lack of it.

  94. So About a year ago I had a warrant issued for my arrest for my 3 month late “adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Complete Works of E.E. Cummiings”!
    The cops actually left me a note on my door saying “we came by to arrest you today, call xxx-xxxx and take care of this”!

  95. Good lord, the answer is so painfully obvious. Its one of the oldest, dumbest pranks that you pull on your friends. Clearly she needs to be a subscription to every skin magazine there is. Hustler? You bet. Playgirl? Why not. N4MBL4 newsletter? Sure. Adam and Eve adult boutique mailing list? Check.

  96. I bought this book for my elementary school library collection. It does cause a stir with the kids, but I deal with it this way: when they check it out, I tell them “This book is for you, for your information, not for showing to all of your friends. It is banned in many other libraries, which means that they don’t even have it. If you don’t handle this book responsibly, that could happen here.” Haven’t had a problem yet. (fingers crossed)

  97. Bryan C., HarrKev, and all the others who don’t see why there’s all this fuss about two books: The loss of the books is bad, but it’s not the primary offense. That’s reserved for her appointing herself a vigilante, and in pursuit of that role removing books from the library. She deserves to have the (figurative) book thrown at her.

  98. I once lost a library book. Looked and looked but cannot find it. I renewed the loan by phone. The due date came and went. After a few weeks, I went there and told them I lost the book. There was a fine. Cost of the book, plus a little (I’m guessing about 50-100%).

    #110 Kungfujohnny, did it work? After getting that note from the police, did you return the book? When returning the book, did you ask if it was one of the librarians who pinned the note on your door?

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