Book overdue by nearly 100 years returned to library
ST. HELENA, Calif. (KPIX) - The expression better late than never applies to a story out of Northern California, where an overdue library book is finally back in its rightful place after nearly 100 years.
A copy of “A History of the United States” by Benson Lossing was checked out in 1927 from the St. Helena Public Library, the same year Calvin Coolidge was in the White House and Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic.
Falling apart and past due to the library by 96 years, the book was finally returned last week.
“Almost 100 years since it was, we assume, in the building. So, we just would love to know where it’s been,” said Chris Kreiden, the library’s director.
Kreiden said she was quite surprised when she was told about the book’s return.
“One of my staff members... came up and said somebody had returned that book, and they thought it was really cool. It was a really old book, and we didn’t realize quite how old it was. It’s falling apart,” she said.
The book is actually older than the library as it is known today. Published in 1892, it was one of the first books available back when the library was a subscription service, and customers were charged 25 cents a month to check out books. The library became public in 1927.
“All of us are just wondering where the book could have been for so long from checked out in 1927. Actually, none of us have seen a library book that was checked out in 1892 or anything else, and to have it be from this library from that far back is really incredible,” Kreiden said.
The mystery man who dropped the book off gave little explanation as to where it has been for the past nine-and-a-half decades.
“The gentleman just said something about his father but didn’t catch anything else. He didn’t give his name. It wasn’t somebody that she recognized. Other staff have no idea who this gentleman is. So, we’d love to find out more about the story,” Kreiden said.
The library estimated the book’s past due bill at more than $1,700 but decided to waive the fine.
“It would have been a lot, but I don’t think that we would have charged that much at any point,” Kreiden said.
With the long missing book now back in its rightful place, the library hopes to add its own chapter to the book’s story.
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