Newcastle library book returned 63 years late

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An overdue library book has been returned nearly 63 years late.

It was posted to Newcastle’s central library but should have been returned to Fenham Library on 25 November 1958.

The first edition copy of Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics was accompanied with a note reading “Better late than never!!”.

The identity of the returner is not known but library manager David Hepworth said “they may have been worried about us sending them a bill”.


Fines for late books have been suspended during the pandemic to avoid people having to make unnecessary journeys.

Library staff have calculated that, at the current rate of 15p per day, the charge would have been about £3,434, although all fines are capped at £15.

“As much as we’re pleased to have this book back, we’re also pleased that it’s sparked a bit of interest and people are talking about libraries and reading,” Mr Hepworth said.

People commenting on the council’s Facebook page said the book “must have been a good read” to be kept out so long and joked about how much the fine would be.

“In those days, even up to the 70s, there was a library officer who would visit people’s houses to get books back,” Mr Hepworth said.

“Clearly we don’t do that anymore.”

He reassured the person who returned the book that the council was “not going to be sending the bailiffs round” but would like to hear from them as its in-house publishing company Tyne Bridge wanted to offer them some books as a thank you.

Source – BBC News

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