March 29 (UPI) -- A Montana library said a stolen book was returned 35 years later with an apology note, a $200 donation, and the author's signature.
The Great Falls Public Library said it recently received a copy of 1975 Richard Matheson novel Bid Time Return in the mail along with a note explaining that it had been stolen from the library in 1982.
The author of the note said the book had been in bad shape, so he had it professionally restored, leaving only a stamped number on the dedication page as a sign that it had once been a library book.
The man wrote that the book had been well loved during its time away from the library and that he has read it at least 25 times.
"It's one of the, if not the greatest sci-fi/romance stories ever written; it's absolutely fascinating," the Great Falls Tribune quoted the note as reading.
The note said the edition of the book is a sought-after collectible, made even more valuable by the fact that he was able to meet the author and have him sign it before his death in 2013.
The man said the theft had "just been bugging me."
"This is not my book, it belongs back in the Great Falls Public Library -- wrongfully taken, yes, but if you can, kindly take into consideration it has been loved and cared for all these years and know I am sorry for taking it," he wrote.
The note's author included a $200 donation to the library, writing that he was "hoping for a chance for redemption here."
Library Director Kathy Mora told library trustees that she wouldn't condone theft of library materials but "the effort and funds he put into caring for the book are remarkable."
The book's 35-year absence from the library's shelves is significant, but doesn't come close to a record -- a British woman recently returned a book to the Hereford Cathedral School in England 120 years after it was checked out by her grandfather when he was a student there. The library decided to waive the $9,351 late fee.