May 16, 2018

A book was returned to a San Francisco library forty-seven years overdue


The San Francisco Public Library. Via WikiMedia Commons.

Better late than never. As Michelle Robertson reports at the San Francisco Chronicle, a library book has been returned late to the San Francisco Public Library after more than forty-seven years — forty-seven years, four months, and twenty-nine days, to be exact.

The book, Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, was apparently in bad shape. Robertson describes it as tattered, with a hole in the title page and the cover detached from its spine.

The SFPL caps late fees at $10.01, which is usually less than the price of a book. Had they allowed fines to continue accruing from 1970 to now, they would have totaled $1,731.70.

Alas, the identity of the borrower is unknown. The book was returned to the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk branch anonymously. Branch manager Anne Vannucchi told Robertson, “It came to Eureka Valley in an interoffice envelope, but with no origination.” As checkout records were handled via paper back then, and 1970’s files are long gone, there is no way to look it up.

Vannucchi would love to speak to the returner out of pure curiosity, but this mystery may just be one for the books. 



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.