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Theft of Library Materials, (Chapter 943.61)
CHAPTER 3: Wisconsin
COMPUTER ID: WS-3
Title: Theft of Library Materials, (Chapter 943.61)
Effective Date: 1979
Authorized By: State of Wisconsin
Date of Last Revision: 2-2012
Theft of Library Materials.
Some municipalities and counties have enacted local theft of library material ordinances. A
local theft ordinance, in conformity with s. 943.61, allows for civil rather than criminal action,
trial on the municipal or county level, and local determination of penalties.
(1) In this section:
(a) "Archives" means a place in which public or institutional records are
(b) "Library" means any public library; library of an educational, historical
or eleemosynary institution, organization or society; archives; or
(c) "Library material" includes any book, plate, picture, photograph,
engraving, painting, drawing, map, newspaper, magazine, pamphlet,
broadside, manuscript, document, letter, public record, microform,
sound recording, audiovisual materials in any format, magnetic or
other tapes, electronic data processing records, artifacts or other
documentary, written or printed materials, regardless of physical form
or characteristics, belonging to, on loan to or otherwise in the custody
of a library.
(2) Whoever intentionally takes and carries away, transfers, conceals or retains
possession of any library material without the consent of a library official,
agent or employee and with intent to deprive the library of possession of the
material may be penalized as provided in sub. (5).
(3) The concealment of library material beyond the last station for borrowing
library material in a library is evidence of intent to deprive the library of
possession of the material. The discovery of library material which has not
been borrowed in accordance with the library's procedures or taken with
consent of a library official, agent or employee and which is concealed upon
the person or among the belongings of the person or concealed by a person
upon the person or among the belongings of another is evidence of
intentional concealment on the part of the person so concealing the material.
ITEM NUMBER: 3.03 b
(4) An official or adult employee or agent of a library who has probable cause for
believing that a person has violated this section in his or her presence may
detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time to
deliver the person to a peace officer, or to the person's parent or guardian in
the case of a minor. The detained person shall be promptly informed of the
purpose for the detention and be permitted to make phone calls, but shall not
be interrogated or searched against his or her will before the arrival of a
peace officer who may conduct a lawful interrogation of the accused person.
Compliance with this subsection entitles the official, agent or employee
affecting the detention to the same defense in any action as is available to a
peace officer making an arrest in the line of duty.
(5) Whoever violates this section is guilty of:
(a) A Class A misdemeanor, if the value of the library materials does not
(c) A Class H felony, if the value of the library materials exceeds $2,500.
Updated July 1, 2002; May, 2006
- Marathon County Public Library
300 North First Street Wausau WI 54403 USA
Account Status: 715-261-7209 (24/7)