Many people are late in returning their library books, but few can beat the current record of 82 years on the south Island.
That’s the most overdue book the Greater Victoria Public Library had turned in, a copy of Stephen Leacock’s “Sunshine sketches of a small town” that was taken out during the First World War.
While eight decades of late fees would add up, librarian Carl Cavanagh said there wasn’t a charge.
“I don’t think there would be any late fees because frankly I think the publicity is worth its weight in gold,” Cavanagh laughed.
While the book was certainly the most overdue thing to come in, it wasn’t the strangest.
“We’ve got about five million circulations in a year, so lots of things come back that we probably didn’t lend in the first place,” said Cavanagh said.
Some of these items might be books from schools or other libraries, or even items people have used as bookmarks.
“We get pressed flowers often, you can tell the time of year because you get more and more pressed flowers in the summer. We got a $100 bill for a book mark recently, and many people use their library card,” Cavanagh said. “My favourite though was someone, used for a bookmark, their television remote. I’m imagining the scene in the household ‘where is the television remote?!’ and it’s literally come back in the book.”
One book came in destroyed with a humorous letter penned by an apologetic dog who offered to replace to it, but one of Cavanagh’s favourite returns was an old record.
“We haven’t lent long-playing records since the early 90’s and just recently we got this LP, it’s a fascinating thing,” Cavanagh said.
The record is the soundtrack of the 1959 “Anatomy of a Murder” movie, by Duke Ellington.
“We’re not sure when it was taken out, but imagine if it was in 1959, that’s nearly 60 years!”
Despite the long overdue dates, the libraries often try to encourage people to come back. Most recently they ran a “Food for Fines” campaign where people who donated food for The Mustard Seed could have their overdue fees waived.
If, however, people have missed the mark for that event, people can still come forward.
“We encourage people to come and talk to us, we’re nice people and we’ll work things out,” Cavanagh said. “It’s really important that people feel valued at the library and that we want them here, it’s not about stuff.”
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