A library book borrowed 80 years ago has found its way back to the Navan library, located in the Republic of Ireland. Library officials are mystified as to how the book found its way back to its facility after so many years.
According to the Irish Independent, a worker at the County Meath-based library found the book returned in pristine condition.
In Dec. 1932, the book 'The pictorial record of the 31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin 1932' had been loaned out shortly after its publication, and apparently never returned. The mysterious borrower recently covertly slipped the book in with others in the overnight return box at the Navan library, reported BBC News.
"It was like any other day really. I arrived in at 9 a.m. and as usual there were returned books lying on the hallway that had been dropped in over the weekend," librarian Ciaran Mangan told the Independent. "I then went to the side entrance to collect the post and that's when I discovered it: 'The pictorial record of the 31st International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin 1932'.
Late fees for the book are estimated to be about €4,160 ($5,195 in the U.S.), but the library is just happy to see it returned. 1932 was the last year the congress was held in Dublin and this book contains a photographic history of the event.
"As good Christians, we decided we would waive that fine if the person appears in person and confesses to having returned the book," said Mangan. "We believe it was well cared for and was probably shelved with the family's collection, getting lost among their own books."
They are mystified as to who the borrower is, as the library's computerized records only date back to 1994; there are seemingly no other written records that connect the borrower to this book.
While 80 years is a long time, it's not the oldest delay for a return. In Dec. 2011, a 123-year-old overdue library book turned up in Britain at a house belonging to the National Trust.
In 2010, it was discovered George Washington had two overdue books from 1789. One of the books the first U.S. President borrowed was from the New York Society Library was "The Law of Nations" by Emer de Vattel on October 5, 1789. The overdue books, which had racked up $300,000 in late fees, was confirmed when the library was converting 18th and early 19th century records to digital storage. The original books had not surfaced, but the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, owner and caretakers of George Washington's home, purchased and gave the library another copy of the same edition of "The Law of Nations".
Not every library is so forgiving over late library books. In Sept. 2011 an Iowa man was sent to 10 days prison for neglecting to return library books, and in Jan. 2012 a library in Massachusetts sent police to the house of a 5-year-old girl to collect books that had been borrowed in 2009.