Overdue library book finally returned — after 41 years

Nadine Kalinauskas
Life's a beach for readers in Bulgaria
Even in these digital times, taking a book to the beach remains one of the most popular holiday pastimes. Now a German architect has come up with a novel way of getting an extension. Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Albena now boasts having its own beach library – with books ready to be read come rain or shine. Herman Kompernas, the library’s architect and project manager, explained: “We found a material that is very resistant to sun and water. We also found a stabilisation method very quickly. We chose a sort of palette construction for under the library to make it very stable against the wind.” The library’s stock of over 2,500 volumes in more than 10 languages is so far proving a hit, especially because all books on the shelves can be borrowed for free. “I think there is a wide choice of books and authors. Also, the library is getting richer because of our guests who leave their own books when they go home for others to read,” said Yovka Strashilova, Albena’s deputy manager. The special open-air library is made of material resistant to strong wind and extreme sun, and in rainy weather the books will be protected by vinyl, fastened with a zipper.

"The Real Book About Snakes" has finally been returned to Champaign County Library in Urbana, Illinois — 41 years overdue.

The library posted a photo of the long-lost book with the note and cash that accompanied it on Facebook.

"Sorry I've kept this book for so long, but I'm a really slow reader!" wrote the anonymous book-borrower. "I’ve enclosed my fine of $299.30 (41 years, 2 cents a day). Once again, my apologies.”

"41 years to the day, we got the checkout stamp on the inside cover due July 17, 1972 and so he included 2 cents per day overdue fine payment," library director Ty Henderson told 2 NEWS.

"He didn't like just like return it and not pay, he paid the money. That's awesome. That's honesty. He didn't throw it to the wind and say oh it's 41 years, they're not going to know."

Currently, $280,935 in overdue fines is owed to the library.

According to Henderson, "It's never too late to return those overdue items."

In February, a book was returned to the New York Public Library 55 years after being signed out. With the book was a $100 cheque.

And in March, an Estonian man returned a library book 69 years late. His excuse? World War II. The library waived all late charges.