A book that was borrowed from a Fife library just three years after the end of the Second World War has finally been returned – 73 years late.
Staff at Central Library in Dunfermline were shocked to be sent the copy of Stately Timber by Rupert Hughes.
The book was taken out from what was then Dunfermline Public Libraries’ Central Library on Abbot Street and should have been returned on November 6 1948.
And if the person who had the book for all that time had been forced to cough up in late fees, it would have cost them nearly £3,000 – but thankfully for them, OnFife has had an amnesty on charges recently.
The book was returned by post by the borrower’s daughter in Cromarty, in the Highlands.
Donna Dewar, a cultural services assistant at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries, said: “I burst our laughing when I opened the parcel, I couldn’t believe it.
“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.
“For a bit of fun we worked out how much could have been due in fees and it comes to a whopping £2,847.
“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 in 1948 – but the reason for failing to return the book as a 20-year-old remains unclear.
Donna added: “Touchingly, following on from last week’s Remembrance Day, she also wrote: ‘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.
“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.”
World record for most overdue book
The Guinness World record for the most overdue library book to be returned is held by one returned to Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge.
The German book on the Archbishop of Bremen was borrowed in 1668 and returned 288 years later.
The book was discovered in a library in Norfolk and returned, but no fine was issued.