stack of books with caption 'the books aren't lost, I'm just hoarding them until I finish my dissertation' (l) woman greenscreen TikTok over image of email with red text reading '$11,900 owed for 119 Lost books.' (c) shelf of books with caption 'the books aren't lost, I'm just hoarding them until I finish my dissertation' (r)

@historyhan/TikTok Remix by Caterina Cox

‘The librarian who sent this email must have felt so powerful’: Woman finds out she owes $11,900 in library fines

‘A lesson was learned.’


Melody Heald


A Binghamton University graduate student said she “never replied to an email faster” than the one she received from her school library notifying her that she racked up a fine of nearly $12,000.

In a video that was viewed over 240,000 times, TikTok user Hannah Jones (@historyhan) shared the email, along with her explanation for not returning 119 books that the library just assumed were lost.

“As it stands your library account has 11,900 owed for 119 lost books,” a portion of the email reads. In the caption, Hannah speculated the librarian who sent it “felt so powerful” when doing so.

Jones showed off the 119 books in the video and said she was “hoarding” them until she finished her dissertation on medieval history.

@historyhan The librarian who sent this email must have felt so powerful 🫠 #gradstudentlife #gradstudent ♬ Originalton – POV’s

Jones told the Daily Dot she checked out the books three years ago when preparing for her comprehensive exams and said she thinks “they all became due at once.” She said she was sent four reminders to renew or return the books via email in March but “kept putting it off.”

“Then I got the automatic email saying all of the books were marked as lost and my account was charged $100 per book,” she added.

Jones said she informed the library she had the books in her possession and the library waived the majority of the exorbitant fine. In the end, she only owed $20.

In a comment, Jones shared that her dissertation is on “Clare of Assisi, apocalyptic expectations, and women’s participation in crusading through prayer in 13th and 14th centuries.” She added that if anyone were to request one of the 119 books in her possession, she’d “get a return notice.”

So far, “no one has wanted them,” she said.

Viewers also shared the policies of their own libraries.

“This is probably the university library but I’m glad my city changed to a never late/no fine system,” one viewer shared.

Another claimed their library has a fee cap of $10.

“Our library doesn’t charge fees anymore!! I never borrowed when it did because my ADHD meant I forgot to return stuff on time a lot. funny part is now I don’t ever have an issue returning them on time. it’s amazing how far kindness goes,” user shared.

In response to a commenter who said they could only check-out five books at a time, Jones revealed Binghamton University’s library lets graduate students check-out a whopping 200 books at a time. Binghamton University’s website confirmed this. Not only that, but grad students also get to keep those books for a full year. This is probably so graduate students like Jones have enough resources for their dissertations, which can include over 100 references.

Jones also revealed she’s likely never going to ignore a book return reminder email again and has the utmost respect for librarians.

“A lesson was learned,” she shared in a series of comments. “God bless librarians!!!”

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