Durability Of Books…Late Fees —Cagle

IT SEEMS that no matter how long a book is checked out from the public library, it will eventually return. But, we may have found the record for the most overdue tome in the history of libraries.

Late last year a book titled “Facts I Ought to Know About the Government of My Country” made its way back to the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts. How old was the book? The loss of President McKinley was still fresh on the minds of many, and no one outside of Baltimore’s slums had ever heard the name Babe Ruth. The book was due May 10, 1910, nearly 100 years ago.

The returnee, Stanley Dudek, told a local paper that he found the book while rummaging through the possessions of his late mother. He felt that returning the book, obsolete though it may now be, was the proper thing to do.

Dudek wasn’t asked to pay the late fee, which was a penny per day, or $361.35. Adjusted for inflation, it would’ve likely cost Dudek a fortune had the library not been so forgiving.

In Toledo, OH, an older gentleman who, as a teenager, had made off with a 700-page biography about Napoleon Bonaparte in 1949 could no longer tolerate

the weight of his transgression (or the weight of the book itself) and mailed it back to the town’s library. The man had failed to check it out, so there was no trace of where the book was residing for the last 60 years.

In the words of Napoleon himself, “The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”

According to the Toledo Blade, the book arrived from Beverly Hills, CA, in great condition with a letter of apology from the man who had mysteriously whisked it away from the library’s shelves.

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