“Man returns library book checked out 75 years ago.”
This newsworthy article caught my attention a couple months ago, and I just had to share it.
Working at the library you think you’ve seen it all: sticky book covers, dog-chewed spines, charred audio cases, and seriously overdue items.
But my mind still reeled when I saw the above headline. What in the world could have happened to delay this book’s return?
Turns out that the children’s book Val Rides the Oregon Trail was found by Robert Lockmon Jr. while he was cleaning out his basement. It belonged to his late father Robert Lockmon Sr. who, according to the receipt in the book, had checked it out in 1941 when he was just 9 years old.
The book’s due date was Dec 2, five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the 7, and Lockmon figures that in light of an ensuing world war, the book’s return may have been forgotten.
I tried to imagine what my reaction would be if I looked down and saw that the due date on a book was Dec. 2, 1941. It would probably be like finding a rare coin or postage stamp, and the circulation staff would most likely be huddled around together with me, to stare at it in awe.
Well, the folks at the Osterhout Free Library in Pennsylvania were certainly happy to see the book back, and waived the fine which was a whopping, wait for it, $554! That’s 2 cents a day for 75 years, two months and 13 days.
“We just laughed about it.” said Jeannette Karaska, the circulation clerk who was on duty at the time.
She says that it’s unlikely that they’ll place the book back in circulation, but she plans to put it on display because of its unique story. For more of the story you can watch this video link here.
Of course I was curious to find out if this was the longest a book had ever been kept out by a patron, and surprisingly the answer was no. In an article in the Daily Mail Reporter, an overdue Library book was returned 123 years late and the fine of 4,500 British pounds was also waived.
The Victorian miscellany Good Words for 1888 was borrowed from the Troutbeck Institute Library shortly after it was first published, but it was never returned.
It sat on the fireside shelf at Townsend House in Troubeck, home to the wealthy Browne family ever since. It was discovered by chance by staff at the National Trust, which now owns the building.
Speaking of waiving of fines and fees, DeKalb County Public Library is also offering Fine Forgiveness to our patrons in the month of April. Beginning April 3 through April 23, we are encouraging patrons to take this opportunity to return any lost and overdue items they may have no matter how old or late, so that we can work with expunging their records. It’s still early in the year and a good time to wipe your library slates clean, replace your library cards and start anew.
I leave you with this list of Ridiculously Overdue Library Books (that were finally returned).