Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2022 Issue

110 Years Overdue Library Book Finally Returned

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The overdue book (Boise Library images).

Rebecca was off the farm for 110 years, but she has returned. Welcome home, Becky.

 

Another overdue library book has been returned a bit later than usual. In this case, the book was 110 years overdue. We have seen longer delays, actually as much as three centuries late, in England, but this is America and this goes back to the Carnegie days, when thanks to Andrew Carnegie, public libraries began springing up all across America. This library was built only two years before the missing book was published.

 

The book was New Chronicles of Rebecca, published in 1907. If that book doesn't ring a bell, its predecessor will. It was a follow-up to the well known Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm, from 1903. The author was Kate Douglas Wiggin, who had great success with the first title. The New Chronicles was not a sequel. Rather, it is a collection of short stories about Rebecca mostly taking place during the same time period as the first book. Only one story comes slightly after the time of the first book. Rebecca was a poor girl whose mother sent her to live with her two maiden aunts after the death of her father, hoping they would be better able to care for her and prepare the young lady for her life ahead. One aunt was stern, the other more appreciative of Rebecca's imagination and rambunctiousness.

 

The book had been borrowed from the Boise (Idaho) Carnegie Library in 1911. It was returned to a library out of town. We don't know who returned it, leaving us with a mystery of where it has been all these years. It was returned anonymously. Nor can the library tell us who took the book out. They didn't have computerized records in 1911 and somewhere along the way, all the old paper ones were thrown out. So the entire 110 years are a blank.

 

The borrower was supposed to return the book in 14 days, but instead took over 40,000. Perhaps she was a slow reader. Being one myself, I can sympathize. For a book like this, the borrower most likely was a teenage girl. If she was 13 at the time, she would be 123 now and perhaps felt it was time to put her things in order. Or, maybe it was an event that occurred in 2019 that spurred the holder to return it. That is when the library dropped its overdue book fines. Otherwise, at the then going rate of 2 cents a day, the book would have incurred $803 in fines. One of the reasons overdue book fines have been eliminated by many libraries is that people of limited means who have overdue books don't return them because they can't afford the fines. This book would have been a perfect case of that problem. If I had found an overdue library book in Grandma's attack with $803 in fines owed, I would have just left it there.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
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    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
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    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
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    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
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  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>February 26, 2022</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> ALLEN, Ethan. <i>A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity from the Time of his Being Taken by the British, near Montreal…,</i> Rare second edition, 1779. $40,000 to $60,000.
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    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> LANE, Edward William, translator. <i>Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.</i> London, 1838–1841. 32 parts in 33. $7,000 to $9,000.
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