First prez owes serious book fine

A New York library is pretty sure that long-deceased President George Washington owes about $300,000 in late fees.


Staff at the New York Society Library discovered papers recently that showed Washington in 1789 borrowed the 12th volume of the "Commons Debates" and a copy of "Law of Nations," yet never returned either tome.

Pennies added up, they said, resulting in a fine more than $300,000, after adjusting for inflation.
Notes the New York Daily News, which first reported the light-hearted story:

"The books were due by Nov. 2, 1789, and have been accruing a fine of a few pennies per day ever since.

This week, Bartlett and his staff became even more convinced the books were filched when librarian Matthew Haugen stumbled upon the long lost 14-volume collection of the "Commons Debates."

Sure enough, Vol. 12 was missing.

"It's hard to know what could have happened," Bartlett said. "There are as many questions for us as there are answers."