Book Is Back in Library After 50 Years

Woman sends $20 toward the fine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2021 6:48 PM CDT
Library Return Is 50 Years Late
"Coins You Can Collect" and a letter are displayed Tuesday at the Plymouth, Pa., Public Library.   (Dave Scherbenco/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

A book checked out a half-century ago has been anonymously returned to a library in northeastern Pennsylvania, officials said. The 1967 copy of Coins You Can Collect by Burton Hobson arrived last month at the Plymouth Public Library in Luzerne County along with a $20 bill, the AP reports. An accompanying unsigned letter, written as if by the book itself, said: "Fifty years ago (yes 50!), a little girl checked me out of this library in 1971. At this time, she didn't know they were going to move from Plymouth. Back then, kids weren't told things like that. As you can see, she took very good care of me." The letter said the book was packed away often for frequent moves but was "always with many other books."

The writer, speaking in her own voice, then says she always intended to send the book back but never got around to it. "This became a running joke in my family. Each time we moved, they always asked me if I packed ‘the Plymouth Book,'" she wrote. The letter writer said she knew the $20 wouldn't come close to paying the accrued fine but suggested, "Perhaps you can pay off some fines of some kids with it." Library director Laura Keller said she did just that, paying the "hefty fines" of a young mother who wanted to start borrowing books again. Borrowing privileges at the library are suspended if fines exceed $5, she said. Both letter and book will be displayed at the library, Keller said. The writer's identity remains a mystery, though she said her family and friends would know the story was about her if it was published in a local newspaper.

(Read more overdue book stories.)

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