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Book returned to British library after 56 years

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Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A British woman who borrowed a book from her local library when she was just 14 years old returned the tome 56 years later, at the age of 70.

The North Tyneside Council in England said Lesley Harrison, 70, told officials she was a 14-year-old student at Whitley Bay Grammar School when she checked the German language textbook Ich Lerne Deutsch out from the old Whitley Bay Library in April 1966.

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"I knew I hadn't brought the book back and when I moved out of my parents' house, I thought I wouldn't be able to afford the fine, so it stayed in a drawer. We moved around a lot, and it always came with me," Harrison told council officials.

Harrison said she decided to return the book after hearing the council had eliminated late fees from library books and had challenged patrons to find the most overdue book in the local library system. She decided to hand-deliver the book to the Killingworth Library.

"When I heard about the amnesty, I thought, 'I'm sure I've got an old book lying around somewhere,' and I know the library staff were shocked and amused when I brought it in. It's still in a good condition though. I do look after my books," Harrison said.

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Councilor Sandra Graham, North Tyneside's Cabinet Member responsible for Libraries, said the book is the most overdue to yet be returned to one of the council's libraries.

"Just for fun, we did a rough calculation of the late fee that a book 56 years overdue could have incurred and it would have come to more than £2,000 [$2406.83]," Graham said. "The book is in a great condition, and I want to thank Lesley for bringing it back. We've had such a positive response to our decision to scrap fines and this is the oldest book we've had back by some distance. Better late than never!"

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