December 10, 2010

Kids: It's never too late to do the right thing


Hazel Severson, book thief gone straight, with her neighbors Jim and Laurie Gibson

According to this report in the Sacremento Bee, a 95 year-old woman returned a 74 year overdue book to the Amador County Library:

For 95-year-old Hazel Severson, the decision was straightforward. The book didn’t belong to her, so she needed to return it.

“It was the library’s book,” she said. “I wanted to get it back to them.”

The book in question was a first edition of Seaplane Solo by Sir Francis Chichester. It was his 1933 autobiographical account of his solo flight across the Tasman Sea. Hazel’s late husband, Howard Severson, a Sacramento businessman and longtime aviator, had checked it out in 1936.

According to the Bee, “With the help of her longtime South Land Park neighbors, Jim and Laurie Gibson, she turned the book over to Amador County librarian Laura Einstadter on Oct. 13.”

Severson even offered to pay the late fees, which she calculated to $2,700, based on a fine of ten cents per day. But the librarian refused, accepting a donation instead. Eisenstadter told the Bee, “We were happy to have the book back. It’s lovely that she and the neighbors cared enough.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.