This book was borrowed from the Courtenay library 30 years ago and was only recently returned to the Prince George library

Book returned 30 years later

$100 enclosed to cover late fees from overdue library book

A book borrowed from the Courtenay library 30 years ago is now making its way back to its rightful home after being dropped off at the Prince George Public Library.

“It’s very unusual for a book to be returned after such a long period of time,” said Courtenay library manager Colleen Nelson, who was waiting for the book to arrive as of Friday. “We often get things back after a year or a little bit longer than that but this is the longest (overdue) item I’ve ever had returned.”

Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart was dropped off at the Prince George library with a note saying it was checked out of the Courtenay branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library 30 years ago. Also enclosed was $100 cash to pay for shipping back to Courtenay and cover any late fines incurred. A man’s name and contact information were also included — though Prince George library had been unable to reach him as of Friday — and the man said he would follow up to ensure the book reached its destination.

According to Nelson, there’s no way of knowing exactly when the book was checked out.

“We switched over from paper records to digital records in the mid-90s and so I don’t have access to the old information,” she said.

She noted late fines are normally 30 cents per day to a maximum of $10, and if the book is returned in a condition unfit for circulation — which this one was — the replacement cost of the book can be charged, too. Nelson said the cash is more than enough to cover the fees and shipping.

Though not suitable for circulation, “It’s something we’ll probably keep in branch because it’s so unusual,” said Nelson. “We haven’t decided quite yet what we’re going to do with it, where we’re going to put it … We might put it out (on display) for a little while so that people can have a look.”

As well, Nelson said the money that came with the book will be considered a donation, and she wants some input from the man who dropped it off to see how he would like the donation spent.

As of Friday, Nelson couldn’t say when the book would get to Courtenay, but she noted library staff are eagerly awaiting its arrival.


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