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Why a Fake Patron Named ‘Chuck Finley’ Checked Out 2,361 Books at This Florida Library Last Year

Some library workers wanted to ensure the classics stayed on the shelves.

Sometimes it takes a transgression to keep the shelves filled.
Sometimes it takes a transgression to keep the shelves filled. Lydia Liu/CC BY 2.0

In what might be the dork misdeed of the year-so-far (although seriously, at least one person might lose their job), a small cabal of library workers in Florida have been caught juking the check-out stats of some classic books using a made up reader.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a “reader” by the name of Chuck Finley checked out 2,361 books from the East Lake County Library in Sorrento, Florida over a nine-month period last year. Or at least he would have if he’d actually existed. Finley, with home address, driver’s license number, and all, was the creation of a pair of librarians who were using his check-out record to save classic books from being circulated off the library shelves (the real Chuck Finley was a long-time MLB pitcher).

Under the library’s official policy, books that don’t get checked out for a couple of years are taken off the shelves, and often times have to be repurchased when they are eventually requested again. The library workers’ scheme was uncovered by an internal investigation launched after an anonymous tip.

While this all sounds like low-stakes noir, the fake Finley’s check-out rate actually altered the library’s circulation rate by 3.9 percent, which could have fraudulently buffed the branch’s funding. The culprits have been reprimanded, but no one has yet been fired.

UPDATE: As a number of our readers have pointed out, the name “Chuck Finley” could also (and is more likely to) refer to the fictional alias of Burn Notice character, Sam Axe, played by Bruce Campbell.