Library on Surprise Return: 'Do We Have a Story for You'

Book overdue for 44 years, $20 check turns up in the mail at Deschutes Public Library in Oregon
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2023 10:00 AM CST
Library on Surprise Return: 'Do We Have a Story for You'
A copy of the letter sent with the overdue book.   (Facebook/Deschutes Public Library)

Life moves fast, so you may not be aware that Saturday is the last day of Return Borrowed Books Week. One library in Oregon has some news to share on that topic. "Do we have a story for you," reads a Wednesday Facebook post from the Deschutes Public Library system, which has libraries in Bend and other neighboring communities. The library explains that five years after the children's book The Hockey Trick, by Scott Corbett, was published in 1974, someone checked a copy out, with a due date of April 25, 1979, per UPI. That due date came and went, and the book was never seen again—until this week, when it arrived in the library's mail, along with a $20 check and a handwritten note.

"Many apologies," the letter reads. "This book was probably due in the late 1970s. Please accept this token of apology." It then adds, regarding the $20 check: "We might've already paid for the book, but put this check to good use." UPI notes that although it was an appreciated gesture on the patron's part, it wasn't necessary, as the library stopped charging fines for late books a few years back. Instead, staffers are simply celebrating the reunion. "It was like getting a literary time capsule!" the library notes in its online post.

Library workers aren't sure if the long-lost book will actually make it back onto the shelf. "If it's in good condition, it's going right back up," Mayra Corn, the library's operations manager, tells Central Oregon Daily News. She adds, "We'll take a look at it and make sure. If it's well loved, it might have earned its time in retirement after 45 years of service." The library also has a friendly reminder for anyone else sitting on long-overdue books in shame, or for fear of bankruptcy. "We do not charge late fees on books (though there is a replacement fee for lost items), so now would be a good time to gather up any late items and send them back our way," its Facebook post notes. (More overdue book stories.)

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