They won’t incur any late fees. 

By Nora Horvath
Updated June 09, 2017
Overdue Library Book Returned 52 Years Late

Everyone knows the dread of returning a late library book: the shame you feel driving up to the library, the struggle of trying to drop it off without a disapproving look from the librarian, and the regret you feel when you’re forced to hand over money for the late fees.

One anonymous patron of the Noah Webster Library, part of the West Hartford Libraries, took the idea of overdue to a whole new extreme when he returned a copy of Who Has Seen The Wind by W. O. Mitchell 52 years after it was borrowed.

While the library will never know who the patron is, as this item long predates their online cataloging system, they did leave a note for the library that read “Returning this book to you after too many years. Sorry it has taken so long.”

“The real mystery here is, why did this person hold on to the book so long and why did they decide to return it?” said Martha Church, an administrative spokesperson from Noah Webster Library. “Was it such a good book they couldn’t bear to give it back? Or maybe they borrowed it from a friend and forgot to return it? The truth is we will never know.”

According to Church, Noah Webster Library would not hold the patron responsible for library fines in a case like this. “There’s a certain point past which we write it off and we say that this book is probably never coming back,” she explains.

If you find yourself with books that are way past due, give your local branch a ring to see if they participate in Library Amnesty Day, a day when you can return library books fee-free, during National Library Week in April.