Maryland Woman Returns Library Book 34 Years Past Due

She doesn't remember checking out "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" when she was 13.

BySusanna Kim
June 12, 2015, 12:16 PM
PHOTO: Lynne Distance, Enoch Pratt Free Library Southeast Anchor Library Branch Manager, accepts the overdue book from Michele Wojciechowski, right, June 11, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Lynne Distance, Enoch Pratt Free Library Southeast Anchor Library Branch Manager, accepts the overdue book from Michele Wojciechowski, right, June 11, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Enoch Pratt Free Library

— -- A woman in Baltimore was relieved to finally return a library book. That's because she checked it out as a teenager and it was 34 years overdue.

Michele Wojciechowski, a writer from Kingsville, Maryland, 15 miles north of Baltimore, said she "completely freaked out" when she discovered the book in her childhood home in Baltimore's Brewers Hill neighborhood last fall.

"I showed my husband, an accountant, and he said, 'So what?'" Wojciechowski told ABC News. "I said, 'No, it’s a library book and it’s overdue.' He starts figuring out how high the fine could possibly be, which made me feel sick to my stomach."

Wojciechowski, 47, found the copy of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," adapted and illustrated by Alice and Joel Schick, in a kitchen cabinet above a refrigerator. The book stamp was dated April 24, 1981, when she was 13 years old.

The library fine could be about $2,500, calculating at a rate of 20 cents a day for 12,346 days. But luckily for Wojciechowski, Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library system caps late fines at $6.

Wojciechowski returned the book Thursday. She also donated copies of her humor book, "Next Time I Move, They'll Carry Me Out in a Box," to each of the city's library branches and paid the $6 fine.

"I have the receipt, so the police aren’t going to come get me," she joked.

"We’re always excited when patrons come forward when they discover books they didn’t return," said the library system's director of communications, Roswell Encina. "We always welcome other people to enjoy them too, no matter how long they’ve had it."

Encina said Wojciechowski's 34-year-overdue book is not the most overdue book he's seen since starting at the library in 2007. A World War II veteran checked out a book in 1946 and mailed it back in 2010, he said, and his colleagues recalled even books returned after even longer periods.

"There are always books way overdue," Encina said. "One good thing about Michele returning this book is to remind people of the importance of people returning books at the library nationwide."

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