May 14, 2009

Thirty one years overdue

These stories about long-lost library books are a perennial favourite, but they do have a good moral: it's never too late to return an overdue item.

From The Washington Post

On March 16, 1978, Sarah McKee walked into the Arlington Central Library and borrowed a book. It was due back April 5.

This month -- three decades, one career, three relocations, seven grandchildren and thousands of books later -- McKee happened to open "The Patriot Chiefs," spotted the library card in the pocket and thought: "Drat."

And so May 5 -- 31 years and one month overdue -- it arrived back at Arlington Library with a note of apology and a cheque for $25.

"To my great embarrassment," the note said, "I recently opened this book and discovered it is yours -- not mine. My apologies for my tardiness."

A library spokesman, Peter Golkin, said it might be the longest overdue return in library memory. As for a fine, he said, "It's always great to get the books back, as opposed to any kind of income from fines or replacement fees."

McKee, now 70 and retired in Amherst, Mass., said the problem was that after the passage of so much time, she thought the book was hers. "I never would have schlepped it around all these years had I not thought it was mine," she said.

McKee, a lifelong bibliophile was once the owner of about 4,000 books. When she retired in 1999, she and her books moved to Amherst, where she is a trustee of a local library.

She was in the process of bringing the books up from the basement, dusting and reshelving them, when she made the discovery. She opened the book, looked in the back, "and oh, my Lord, it wasn't mine," she recalled.

"Drat," she thought. "I have to send it back."

She did so, mailing it first class.

Asked about the book, she said she could not recall whether she read it, adding with a laugh:

"You know where you can borrow it."

No comments: