Man returns library book 96 years past due date

A Northern California man returned a book to his local library this month – 96 years after the book’s original delivery date.

The book, “A History of the United States” by Benson Lossing, was borrowed in 1927 and is not in perfect condition, but the St. Helena Public Library was happy to receive it and spared the man which otherwise might have cost around $1,700. in late fees.

“We probably won’t restore it. We’ll leave things as they are for now,” said Chris Kreiden, the library manager. “It’s quite tricky. The pages are browning and some pages have creased edges. We’re exposing it for now – and that’s probably where it will stay.

Kreiden said the book belonged to Jim Perry, a local man who returned the book he found while rummaging through boxes. The book previously belonged to Perry’s wife, who died, according to Kreiden.

The director of the Saint Helena Public Library said the finally returned book would be on display at the library for the time being.

(Courtesy of Saint Helena Public Library)

Perry believed the book was removed from the library in 1927 by his wife’s grandfather, who then passed it on, Kreiden said.

At the time, it cost 25 cents a month to remove books from the St. Helena library, but the institution has since pivoted to removing the start-up fee. Perry is fortunate that the St. Helena Public Library also adopted a policy in 2019 that waived all late fees.

Inside the book it says it can be kept for two weeks, then the fine becomes 5 cents a day. That means Perry would have owed more than $1,700 if the library had collected on its 1927 rule.

“We went fine for free in 2019, but before that our maximum fine per item was $10, so it would have been OK,” Kreiden said.

Los Angeles Times

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