It is every librarian’s nightmare: library users NOT returning books on time. In school libraries, penalties are laid down left and right because students tend to forget that the book they borrowed is due on a certain date. Many students even forget to return the book forever – resulting in huge fines at the end of the school year.
In public libraries, it is harder to lay down measures and actually “get” the person who does not return books. After all, you can’t go after each and every person that does this. Sooner or later, they remember that they need to return the book and they do so. Of course, they have to face the consequences, don’t they?
But, have you ever heard of someone returning a book that has been overdue for 45 years? Yup, that’s exactly what happened at a British library recently. Dinnington Library is located near Sheffield in northern England. According to its principal assistant, Alison Lawrie, they received a Penguin first edition copy of “Quartermass and the Pit” by Nigel Kneale in the mail. It is not everyday that a library receives an overdue book through the post, and it is even rarer that this overdue book should have been returned in October 15, 1965! I was not even born yet!
As can be expected, the book was mailed with no return address. I do not blame the person – he or she is probably scared of the hefty fine that comes with the book! Lucky for him or her, the library’s records do not go as far back as 1965. Still, Lawrie says that they would love to know the story behind the book’s return and that the person will NOT be fined. Come forward, whoever you are!