Insight & Analysis

Late returns

Published: Jan 2017

A library book is finally returned, just a century late.

At the current rate of ten cents a day, the cost of returning a library book 100 years late is $3,650.

Thankfully though, Webb Johnson of Fairfield, Connecticut in the US was spared the financial pain when he returned a San Francisco library book 100 years after it was removed by his great-grandmother in 1917 due to the library’s current amnesty programme for overdue books.

The book, ironically called ’40 minutes late’ is a collection of short stories published in 1909 and was discovered by Johnson in 1996. He held onto it until a mixture of conscience and the amnesty programme promoted him to return the book.

Luis Herrera, Head City Librarian, welcomed the book back and joked that the library was glad to get it back after all this time. And the library is not willing to part with the book again, at least not right away. This is despite Johnson’s cousin, Judy Wells, already wanting to check the book out, seeing it as a family heirloom.

The book is currently being re-catalogued and evaluated by library historians and is likely to be kept well away from the Johnson-Wells family!

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