January 29, 2016

Library book returned 49 years late


Last week, a late book was returned to the Herrick District Library in Holland, Michigan. Which isn’t that strange, except this time, according to library director Diane Kooiker, the book had been checked out in 1967. As reported by Suzan Clarke at ABC News:

Kooiker said the package contained the book -– a nonfiction publication on World War II — and a note of explanation from the borrower.

Citing laws protecting library patrons’ privacy, Kookier said she could not reveal the book’s title or the name of the borrower. According to the note, a section of which was posted on the library’s Facebook page on Jan. 22, the borrower attended an area college and had checked the book out in 1967.

In his note, the patron explained that the book had mistakenly been placed in a trunk of personal items. And while the trunk had moved many times with its owner, it hadn’t been opened since. (This sounds like a case for Marie Kondo, but that’s neither here nor there.) He also included a “modest donation to cover what I am sure is a tremendous fine.”

Here’s the note:HT_letter_jef_160127_12x5_1600

Kooiker told ABC News that she loved the gesture:

“I just thought it was marvelous and I was delighted,” she said of the patron’s action. “Because I don’t think very many people would have returned a book that was that far overdue. They would have just said ‘oh well, they’ll never miss it’ or whatever, so I just thought it was great that this guy had enough courtesy to admit what had happened 50 years ago and return the item.”


Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.