Book returned to Massachusetts library 78 years late

By Ben Hooper

Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts library said a local resident recently returned a book that was last checked out 78 years and 10 months ago.

The Attleboro Public Library said in a Facebook post that the book, The Young Lady at Home by T.S. Arthur, was brought in this week, well after the due date of Nov. 21, 1938.


"A gentleman was cleaning out a friend's basement and saw that the book had our markings and a due-date card, and he thought we would want it back," library deputy director Amy Rhilinger told WPRI-TV.

"I've been here 15 years -- we've never had anything returned the length of time that this item was," Rhilinger said. "We were hysterical. I mean, really? 1938?"

She said the book is not in any condition to return to the stacks.

"Disrepair is an understatement," Rhilinger said.

"It was definitely not a book that we would be able to ever circulate again, or even put on a shelf near other books," she said. "But what we thought was awesome was, here's this guy who totally respects the fact that the library collects items for everyone to share, and in order to make it the democracy that it is, you bring things back."


Rhilinger said the late fee for such a late book would come out to about $2,800, but the library doesn't plan to seek out any reimbursement.

"There's no fine attached," Rhilinger said. "We have no way of finding who had it out. Obviously, we didn't have computerized checkout systems back in the day. So that information is long gone."

She said librarians also have no hard feelings toward the person who checked out the truant tome.

"We have our own fair share of overdue library items, and we're here every day -- so we get it," Rhilinger said.

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