Art, film and music lovers are New Zealand's most unreliable library users
If New Zealanders suddenly paid their library fines, our councils' coffers would be inundated with more than $4 million.
Aucklanders alone owe their libraries more than $2.5 million in late fees and unpaid fines.
Auckland Libraries was seeking to recover a $540 DVD from its worst customer, who also owed another $1531 in fees and charges for other unreturned and late loans. The $540 DVD was titled Volume 6, Rembrandt ‐ Vermeer, and had been counted as "lost" on the library's ledger.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch painter who died in 1669. His work continued to be featured in The Louvre, in Paris, France, and in London's National Gallery.
The customer had taken out a pile of DVDs, mostly documentaries, using his card. Auckland Libraries was charging the customer $2071.62 for 35 yet to be returned DVDs.
While the majority of the almost $4.5 million sum owed to New Zealand's major libraries was made up of small fines, libraries in all our major cities have some big ticket offenders owing upwards of $1000 each.
A Wellington academic with an interest in fine art and science was due a shock from the library and its debt collectors, library accounts show they owed $2713.26. Wellington's tardiest library patron had 18 books outstanding, including three books about Vincent van Gogh and collections of art history and science textbooks.
The Wellington library was seeking to receive almost $1.5 thousand in "lost items" charges from them, in addition to $592 worth of fines and debt collection charges equalling $652.28, documents obtained under the Official Information Act showed.
As was the case in Auckland, most libraries' worst offenders had withdrawn piles of DVDs and CDs.
In Hamilton, one customer owed $1132.10 for taking out multiple copies of the same DVDs.
The Hamilton customer had 44 overdue or "lost" DVDs, according to the Hamilton Library, including two copies of the complete fourth season of Brothers and Sisters, costing $80 each.
Their library card had also been used to take out multiple copies of popular Hollywood films such as Paranormal Activity, The Expendables and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
The Dunedin Library continued to seek recompense from a music fan who last used its services in April 2015. The library sought $1731.01 for about 50 missing or overdue albums.
In 2015, the CD acquirer had, like the Hamilton DVD fan, taken out multiple copies of the same CDs. Their account showed they had taken out almost every Now That's What I Call Music album available, as well as two copies of Kiss' self-titled 1974 record.
Across the country, libraries struggled to get The Road Code returned to their shelves. It was the most stolen or lost book in Tauranga, Auckland and Wellington. The Tauranga library had stopped supplying the New Zealand Road Code in print, instead opting to loan digital copies of the book.
Tauranga had also struggled with someone failing to return books about Maori culture and history.
One Tauranga customer had reached the threshhold for the number of items that could be borrowed at one time by taking out 40 books about Maori culture in 2012. The books were never returned, a Tauranga Library spokesperson said. The library had fined the person $1648.44 for the books. Like other libraries, a debt collection agency had also become involved and was charging $492.39 as well.
In Christchurch, however, a children's book about Finnish trolls called Moomins topped the list for the book most often not returned at the library. In April four copies of The curious explorer's guide to the Moominhouse were yet to be returned.