SORRENTO, Fla. — Chuck Finley appears to be a voracious reader, having checked out 2,361 books at the East Lake County Library in a nine-month period this year.

But Finley didn’t read a single one of the books. That’s because Finley isn’t real.

The fictional character was concocted by two employees at the library, complete with a false address and driver’s license number.

After allegations in November, an investigation by the Lake County clerk of courts’ inspector general’s office concluded that Finley was a fake, and the county has since requested a systemwide audit of its libraries.

The goal behind the creation of “Chuck Finley” was to make sure certain books stayed on the shelves — books that aren’t used for a long period can be discarded and removed from the library system.

George Dore, the library’s branch supervisor who was put on administrative leave, said he wanted to avoid having to later repurchase books purged from the shelf. He said the same thing is being done at other libraries, too.

If true, that could be a problem.

That’s because nine city-run libraries are part of the Lake County library system and receive a percentage of their funding based on circulation levels. The system is a cooperative with centralized cataloging and check-out privileges for residents at any library.

The fictional Chuck Finley was named after “a ballplayer,” according to the inspector’s notes. Chuck Finley is a retired MLB player who pitched for 17 years.


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