Long overdue: Library book returned after nearly a century

 Books (illustrative) (photo credit: Abhi Sharma/Flickr)
Books (illustrative)
(photo credit: Abhi Sharma/Flickr)

By the time it was handed back to the library, it had passed 96 years of due dates.

A California library had a book returned almost 100 years after it was due to be returned last week. 

A copy of A History of the United States by Benson Lossing, an American historian, was published around 1881. The same book was checked out by a library patron early in 1927, but never made its February due date.

Local media outlets reported that the book was dropped off last week by a man to the St. Helena Public Library, where the book was initially checked out from.

"One of my staff members came up and said 'Oh somebody had returned that book,'" library director Chris Kreiden said. In his interview with KOVR 13 News, he had said that his staff "thought it was really cool. We didn't realize quite how old it was — it was falling apart."

By the time it was handed back to the library, it had passed 96 years of due dates.

Was a late fee charged for the book?

Though library books are known for collecting late fees, this library had done away with fines for late books in 2019, library director Chris Kreiden told KOVR 13. The library's former 5-cent daily penalty for late books would have charged him $1,756 if still in place.

Notices like "This book may be kept for two weeks" and "injuries to books, and to books lost, must be paid for" were listed in the library's original note, too.

Now, the St. Helena Public Library has placed the tattered book in a glass case for safe keeping. Kreiden told the St Helena Star that "It would be cool to put it on display someday but we haven't figured out how to do that."

Library staff believe the book is one of the 540 original books held at the library when it first opened in 1892.