Friday, April 29, 2016

No fine for woman who returned library book nearly 68 years late

A woman has returned a book she borrowed from a library in Auckland, New Zealand, nearly 68 years after it was due back. The book, A.W. Reed's Myths and Legends of Maoriland, was borrowed from Epsom Library in 1948 and was due to be returned on December 17 that year. Epsom Librarian Zoe Cornelius said the woman came in on Thursday afternoon to return the book and chat with staff.

"She told me she was an Epsom Library member as a child, but they moved away and she accidentally took this book with her." The woman was in the city to visit family and took the opportunity to give it back. "She's had it for years and always been thinking she wanted to get it back to us, and was never able to do so," Cornelius said. The woman told library staff she got Myths and Legends out as a child, and was now a grandmother.

She had read the book a number of times over the years she had it. Cornelius said it wasn't uncommon to have books returned after several years, but this was the oldest overdue book she'd seen. "It was fantastic, though, that she could bring it back for us and tell us about it. I just got such a thrill out of it." The due date slip inside the back cover clearly states the borrower will be fined "at the rate of three-pence for the first week or part thereof, and one-penny per day thereafter".

According to those terms, the woman would be fined 102.50 pounds for the 24,604 days it was overdue. Converted to todays money and adjusted for inflation (using the Reserve Bank's online inflation calculator), that's a $7,321.43 fine. But she would be fined even more by today's standards. These days Auckland Libraries fines members a flat $1 for each day a book is overdue, making the woman's debt $24,604.00. However, Cornelius said the woman would "definitely not" be fined. "Of course she would have been a child at that time as well, and we don't charge our kids fines," she said.

There's a video here.

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