library booksI forget things. A lot. Always have. And when I'm not forgetting things, I'm either misplacing or flat-out losing them. So I have to admit: The idea of a library book being 55 years overdue isn't a particularly difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. The idea of someone actually returning a library book after 55 years, on the other hand ... now that's what I call an unexpected plot twist! But that's what happened.

The book was a biography of Catholic missionary and co-founder of the Jesuits St. Francis Xavier, written by Rev. Arthur R. McGratty, S.J.. The library was the Fort Washington branch of the New York Public Library. And the last check out date on the library card for this copy of "Fire of Francis Xavier" was April 10, 1958.

Okay. So if the library were to tally this tardiness tariff based on its current late fee rate of 25 cents per day, hmm, let's see ...

The fine for a book 55 years overdue would be $5,018.75!

No wonder the biography was returned anonymously!

Well, sort of anonymously. Sigh. It would've been awesome if some elderly fan of St. Francis hand-delivered the book and made a personal apology, right? At least what really happened is only slightly less awesome: Library staff don't know who returned the book, but whoever did also included a check for $100.

Wow. Talk about letting your conscience be your guide! I mean, the mystery reader didn't have to return that book at all -- after 55 years? Like the non-existent library police were gonna suddenly show up to settle a debt or something? The $100 check was just an extra little bit of nice sprinkled on top of an already extra-large helping of nice. I can't say I would have bothered to be quite so nice. Or thoughtful.

Huh. I guess the moral of the story is that in addition to being scatterbrained, I'm not a very nice person.

Would you return a library book after 55 years?


Image via CCAC North Library/Flickr