Library book returned 110 years after being checked out

BOISE, Idaho — Librarians in Boise got a surprise earlier this month when someone returned an overdue book to the library that had been checked out in 1911.

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The book, “New Chronicles of Rebecca” by Kate Douglas Wiggins, was published in 1907 and later checked out from the city’s Carnegie Public Library. It was recently returned to the Garden City Library, where librarians sent it over to the Boise Public Library, KIVI-TV reported.

“I think we were all very surprised,” Anne Marie Martin, a library assistant at the Boise Public Library, told the news station. “You kind of wondered what its story was and how it ended up there. Was it in somebody’s box? Did somebody pass away? Did they move -- you know, what happened? We’ll never know but you could imagine all types of fun stories about it.”

She told KTVB that the checkout desk noticed that the book didn’t have any current markings, so they looked into the book and discovered it was more than 40,000 days late. The books pages are still crisp and its ink is still clear, the news station reported.

“It’s in very good shape,” Martin told KTVB. “I think the condition would be very good to excellent.”

The Boise Public Library stopped charging people overdue book fees in 2019, according to KIVI. If they hadn’t, the person who checked out the book might have faced a $803 overdue fine, according to library officials.

New Chronicles of Rebecca - originally checked out from Boise's Carnegie Public Library in 1910! - was recently...

Posted by Boise Public Library on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The book is being kept in the library’s Idaho Room, where visitors will be able to look at and read from it, KIVI and KTVB reported.

“It would be great if we could find out what happened, but that said, sometimes there are just mysteries in history,” Martin told KTVB.