Reader avoids fine after returning library book 50 years late

Library book returned to Edinburgh library after being 50 years overdue.
Overdue book: The book was due to have been returned in 1962@Deadline

A man who returned a library book 50 years late has been spared a £2700 fine.

David Black took the copy of Goya by Dr Xavier de Salas back to the Fine Art Library in Edinburgh, where he borrowed it on September 22, 1962 using a library card belonging to his mother Winnie.

Mr Black, 60, who is an arts journalist and critic, borrowed the title to study the work of the 18th century Spanish romantic painter but forgot to return it.

He was spurred to take the book back after hearing about a fines amnesty allowing readers to return overdue books without paying a penalty.

He told the Scotsman: “I was only a schoolboy at the time and completely forgot to return it. It would pop up every now and again over the years but each time it would slip my mind to actually do it.

“Two years ago I even attended a showing of the play Underneath the Lintel which is about a librarian who sets out to find whoever anonymously returned a library book that is 113 years overdue.

“When I read about the fines amnesty I decided that I must do it, once and for all, if only to see the librarian’s face. It feels good to have finally returned it after all these years.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport convener, told the newspaper: “This is a wonderful story and, of course, the Fine Art Library are very happy to have their book back after 50 years!

"The fines amnesty for National Libraries Day has proven a real success. We’ve been delighted at how many people have taken the opportunity to come back into their local library.”

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