Long overdue: Five library books returned a few decades late

By Ben Hooper
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Aug. 13 (UPI) -- One of the most appealing aspects of using a public library is being able to borrow books for free -- provided they are returned by the stipulated due date.

Recently, some libraries have detailed the cases of patrons who failed to meet the deadline, and the books that were returned decades overdue.


1. 45 years: Midget Motoring and Carting

The Sunnyvale Public Library in California said Robert Somaduroff checked out a book called Midget Motoring and Carting in 1974, and he ended up returning the tome in person -- 45 years later.

Somaduroff told librarians he had intended to learn how to build his own vehicle from the book before he was old enough to get a driver's license, but he never got around to pursing the hobby. He voluntarily paid the library's maximum overdue fine, $10.


2. 49 years: Great Moments in Chess

The Greater Sudbury Public Library in Ontario said a copy of Great Moments in Chess was returned in the drop box in May with an apologetic note from a man named "Larry" scrawled on the sign-out card, which had last been stamped in 1970.

The library patron, Larry Corrigan, later told librarians the book had accidentally ended up coming with him when his family moved to Nova Scotia. He said he wanted to make sure the book was returned because his late father, Cecil Corrigan, was a big fan of public libraries.

3. 51 years: Life of Charles Dickens

The Flint Public Library in Michigan said a copy of Life of Charles Dickens, by John Forster, was checked out in 1968 and returned earlier this year -- 51 years after its due date.


Librarians said the book was brought in by a woman who explained the tome was found while going through a family member's old possessions.


4. 53 years: The Family Book of Verse

Memorial Middle School library in Fair Lawn, N.J., said former student Harry Krame, 65, recently paid a visit to return The Family Book of Verse, which he had checked out from the school library when he was a student 53 years earlier.

School officials said they typically charge a 10-cent-per-day late fee on overdue books, but they decided to waive the approximately $2,000 worth of fees Krame would have racked up for the tardy return.

5. 82 years: The White Owl

The Donegal County Library in Letterkenny, Ireland, said librarians were stunned when a copy of The White Owl, by Annie M.P. Smithson, was returned recently, 82 years after the listed due date.

Family members said they found the book while clearing out a deceased relative's house. Ireland abolished public library fines in January 2019, but officials estimated the book would have racked up about $1,428 in late fees.


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