Book returned to a local library after 96 years - with fines of £1.5k

A book borrowed nearly a century ago has finally been returned to the library it was loaned from having racked up fines of almost £1,500. A copy of Benson Lossing's "A History of the United States" was returned to the St Helena Public Library after 96 years by Jim Perry.

Mr Perry was browsing his late wife Sandra's trove of collected literature when he found the missing item, reports The Daily Express US. The resident of Napa, California, said he was on a deep clean of his house when he discovered the book which was falling apart.

He said: “This box of books had been stored in a cool place in our home where we kept our books.”

Jim believes that the original borrower of the book was his late wife's grandfather John McCormick in 1927, who checked the book out for daughters Edna May and Ina, who were 10 and 13 at the time.

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The book was returned this month, with Jim avoiding having to pay the $1,800 fine due to a change in library policy back in 2019. Chris Kreiden, director of St. Helena Public Library, told ABC News: "It wasn't until I got it later that I wondered if it was one of the original books in our collection."

The book was passed down from John to his daughter Edna May, who in turn handed it down to Jim's wife when she died in 2011.  Kreiden confirmed the copy is not in a good state and has a missing spine.

He also asserted the book was one of the first titles available for readers in the community to take out when the library became a subscription service.

It would have cost about 25 cents per month to check out books in those days. He said: "I don't think we would've charged that much at any point. To have it be from this library from that far back is really incredible."

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