Overdue book which racked up £3000 fees returned after 70 years

The copy of Stately Timber by Rupert Hughes was due to be returned to a Fife library on November 6, 1948. 

Overdue book which racked up £3000 fees returned after 70 years Email

An overdue book has been returned to a library in Fife after more than 70 years – racking up almost £3000 in fees.

The copy of Stately Timber by Rupert Hughes, an adventure story set in Boston, USA, was due to be returned to the-then Dunfermline Public Libraries’ Central Library on Abbot Street on November 6, 1948. 

Instead, the book arrived at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries (DCL&G) last week after being posted by the borrower’s daughter almost exactly 73 years later.

“I burst out laughing when I opened the parcel, I couldn’t believe it,” said Donna Dewar, a cultural services assistant at DCL&G.

“We had a book returned to our Rosyth branch after 14 years recently, which we thought was amazing enough, but this was way beyond anything we’ve heard of.” 

The library book was taken out during and after the Second World War.

The library book could be in the running for one of the most overdue returned to a public library in the UK. 

Earlier this year, an overdue library book was returned to Newcastle’s central library almost 63 years later. 

Donna added: “For a bit of fun we worked out how much could have been due in fees and it comes to a whopping £2847.

“It arrived with a lovely letter from the borrower’s daughter who was able to give us a bit of detail.” 

The sender explained that her late father had lived in Thornton, Fife in 1948 but was unsure if the then-20-year-old forgot about the book or decided to keep it. 

The book also has a historical significance, as it was taken out by library members during the latter years of the Second World War.

The woman added: “I find it fascinating to see the dates of when this book was taken out, during the latter year of WW2 and that the war ended between stamps marked by librarians. 

“Life goes on around momentous historical events.” 

Christine McLean, OnFife’s head of cultural heritage and wellbeing said: “We’re thrilled to have received it – especially as this week is Book Week Scotland when we’re doing so much to promote our libraries – and we look forward to finding a special place to display the book, and the story of its journey, in our Local Studies section at DCL&G.”

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