‘Incredibly overdue’: book back in Minnesota library 100 years past checkout | Minnesota

‘Incredibly overdue’: book back in Minnesota library 100 years past checkout | Minnesota  

The book on famous composers from the St Paul public library in Minnesota must have been a really good read.

It was more than a century overdue when it was finally returned recently.

Titled Famous Composers and exploring the lives of composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, the tome turned up while a Hennepin county resident was sorting through a relative’s belongings. The library checkout slip shows it was last borrowed in 1919, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reported.

The St Paul digital library coordinator, John Larson, said it was the most overdue book he ever saw returned in his 25 years working for the library.

“There’s been a time or two when something has come back and maybe it has been checked out for 20 or 30 years, but nothing where it looks like it has been out for some 100 years,” he said to MPR. “Maybe once every five or 10 years we will see something that is incredibly overdue.”

Larson investigated the book’s markings and found that it had first been entered into the library’s catalog in 1914. That was the year before a fire at the Old Market Hall where the library was housed destroyed 160,000 books in the facility’s collection.

At the time of the fire, nearly a third of the library’s books were checked out, Larson discovered. That made Famous Composers one of the lucky pieces of literature to survive the blaze.

A stamp in 1916 confirms that it was re-entered into the library’s collection.

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St Paul’s mayor, Melvin Carter, joked in a tweet on Saturday that there would be no fine. The library – like many across the country – stopped charging late fees in 2019.

During the time period the book was checked out, Larson thinks a late fee would have been a penny a day. That would amount to a $36,000 fine, according to his math.

The book’s future is uncertain. Larson said he doubted it will go back into circulation because of its delicate condition, but he expected the library to hang on to it.

“It has reached a point where it’s not just an old book – it’s an artifact,” he said. “It has a little bit of history to it.”

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