A decision to drop off a library book one afternoon in July left a Florida woman permanently disfigured after her finger was severed by the book return slot.
Barbara “Bobbie” Haverly made her way to the W.T. Bland Public Library in Mount Dora on July 28 to return the books she had borrowed. “It was a busy afternoon at the library. There was a line of people waiting to check out books and lots of children around in the newly designed kids’ area,” she recalled to KTVU News.
Opting to avoid the lines, Haverly utilized the library’s drop box. When the metal door swung back, however, it trapped her left middle finger on the other side of the flap. “I was in shock. It hit an artery, so there was blood squirting everywhere,” she told the outlet.
As a registered nurse, Haverly had the presence of mind to alert the staff of her predicament, asking them to retrieve the severed portion of her finger and put it on ice. Despite their efforts, however, doctors were unable to reattach Haverly’s finger due to multiple severed nerve endings. (RELATED: Man Smashes Catholic Statue With Hammer, Cuts Off Hands: Police)
A Florida woman ended up permanently disfigured after she returned a library book into the drop box a few weeks ago. https://t.co/SwBLg4t1kI
— KTVU (@KTVU) August 18, 2023
“Instead, more of my finger had to be taken off because it was cut off diagonally. My surgeon said he had to cut straight across to allow skin to grow back,” Haverly explained.
Though she still has approximately two-thirds of her finger, Haverly told the outlet her life has been forever changed by the incident. Once very active, Haverly has reportedly found that the activities that once brought her joy, she can no longer do. “I wasn’t taking any risks, I was just returning a book at the library,” Haverly stated. “And now I’m permanently disfigured.”
Haverly’s husband, Paul, reportedly went back to the library and found an “Out of Order” sign had been placed over the drop box, though he believes it should be taken out altogether. “There’s no reason for this type of protective swinging door inside a library,” he said, telling the outlet an open chute would be sufficient.
Her attorney, Chris Largey, told KTVU there was very little Haverly could do against the library legally as it is protected under sovereign immunity. “As a county library, owned by the government, there’s a limitation on the kind of claims that can be made,” he explained.