Library book returned 79 years past due date

It took nearly 80 years, but a book borrowed during the Great Depression has been returned to a Massachusetts public library.

The Attleboro Public Library shared on Facebook last week that a copy of The Young Lady at Home by T.S. Arthur was returned to them last week.

The library, though, probably didn’t even know it was missing — since it was supposed to be returned on Nov. 21, 1938.

Someone returned a book to the The Attleboro Public Library in Massachusetts that was due in 1938 

The library took to Facebook this week to share images of the inside of book that had been returned to them almost 79 years past the due date.

The photos show the library card with its decades-old return date stamp, as well as an inscription with the name of the book.

Oddly, T.S. Arthur does not appear to have published a book called The Young Lady at Home; he did, however, published novels called The Lady at Home (one in 1844 and one in 1850).

He also published The Young Lady who had Finished her Education in 1844 and The Young Lady Who Was Not Punctual in 1845. 

‘A gentleman was cleaning out a friend’s basement and saw that the book had our markings and a due-date card, and he thought we would want it back,’ library deputy director Amy Rhilinger told WPRI-TV.

The person found it while cleaning and was not charged a late fee, which would be nearly $3,000

The person found it while cleaning and was not charged a late fee, which would be nearly $3,000

Though she said the condition of the book that it was beyond disrepair and could not go back into circulation, the library staff all got a laugh out of the incident.

‘It was definitely not a book that we would be able to ever circulate again, or even put on a shelf near other books. But what we thought was awesome was, here’s this guy who totally respects the fact that the library collects items for everyone to share, and in order to make it the democracy that it is, you bring things back.’

‘I’ve been here 15 years,’ she added. ‘We’ve never had anything returned the length of time that this item was. We were hysterical. I mean, really? 1938?’

Luckily for the man who returned the book, the library will not collect late fees, which would total almost $2,800 at their 10-cent daily fine rate.

‘There’s no fine attached,. We have no way of finding who had it out. Obviously, we didn’t have computerized checkout systems back in the day. So that information is long gone,’ she said.