A man accused of failing to return more than 700 children's books to five different libraries in the county was released from jail yesterday after a book publisher agreed to post his bond of $1,000. The publisher said, "There's a story here. This is a man who loves books. He just can't let go of them. He hasn't stolen a single book. So what's the crime? We think that Mr. Barush has a story to tell. We plan to publish his story."
When asked why he didn't return the books, Mr. Barush said, "Well, how could I? They became family to me. I was afraid to return them, because I knew that kids or dogs would get hold of these books and chew them up, throw them around, rip the pages, spill soda on them, get jam and jelly on them, and drown them in the toilet."
He continued, "Books are people, too! They talk to you, they take care of you, and they enrich you with wisdom and humor and love. A book is my guest in my home. How could I kick it out? I repaired torn pages. I dusted them with a soft clean cloth. I turned their pages so they could breathe and get some fresh air.
"Every week I reorganized them on their shelves so they could meet new friends. My books were HAPPY books. You could tell just by looking at them. Now they're all back in the library, on the lower shelves, on the floors, at the mercy of all those runny-nosed kids. I can hear them calling me! I need to rescue them. Excuse me. I have to go now."