Library Book Returned 49 Years Late With ‘Modest Donation’ to Cover Fine

PHOTO: A library patron returned a book he had checked out from the Herrick Public Library in Michigan. It was 49 years overdue and was accompanied by a note of explanation and a contribution to cover any fines.Herrick Public Library
A library patron returned a book he had checked out from the Herrick Public Library in Michigan. It was 49 years overdue and was accompanied by a note of explanation and a contribution to cover any fines.

When one library patron realized he’d failed to return his library book on time, he did the right thing –- sending it back even though it was 49 years late.

Diane Kooiker, director of the Herrick District Library in Holland, Michigan, received the special delivery via UPS about a week ago.

In a Wednesday interview with ABC News, Kooiker said the package contained the book -– a nonfiction publication on World War II -- and a note of explanation from the borrower.

Citing laws protecting library patrons’ privacy, Kookier said she could not reveal the book’s title or the name of the borrower. According to the note, a section of which was posted on the library’s Facebook page on Jan. 22, the borrower attended an area college and had checked the book out in 1967.

The borrower wrote that the book got mixed up with his personal belongings and was shipped back to New York in a trunk.

“I have moved the trunk many times but until recently never opened it,” the letter said. “Upon doing so, I found your book.”

It continued: “Please accept the book and my modest donation to cover what I am sure is a tremendous fine.”

The amount of the donation was $100.

Kooiker said the fine would have been capped at the cost of replacing the book.

In her 31-year career, Kooiker said she had never seen a book returned so late.

“I just thought it was marvelous and I was delighted,” she said of the patron’s action. “Because I don’t think very many people would have returned a book that was that far overdue. They would have just said ‘oh well, they’ll never miss it’ or whatever, so I just thought it was great that this guy had enough courtesy to admit what had happened 50 years ago and return the item.”

Kooiker said the book was “in great shape” and would be returned to circulation.