Book returned to Fife library over 70 years late could be a UK record

A book has been returned to a library in Fife more than 70 years overdue.

And that could make it the most overdue book ever in the UK.

Stately Timber by Rupert Hughes – an adventure story set in Boston, USA – should have been returned to what was then Dunfermline Public Libraries’ Central Library in Abbot Street on November 6, 1948.

It was returned, seven decades late by the daughter of the borrower.

The book returned to the Fife library after more than 70 years (Pic: OnFife)

OnFife, which runs the region’s libraries, estimates the fees due would have been over £2000 - but it currently has an amnesty on overdue books so the family won’t have to pay.

The book was returned by post from Cromarty to Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries last week - almost 73 years to the day it was taken out.

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Donna Dewar, a cultural services assistant at DCL&G, said: “I burst out laughing when I opened the parcel. I couldn’t believe it.

Donna Dewar with the book (Pic: OnFife)

“We had a book returned to our Rosyth branch after 14 years recently, which we thought was amazing, but this was way beyond anything we’ve heard of.”

It is now in the running for one of the most overdue books ever returned to a public library in the UK.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported an overdue book had been returned to Newcastle’s central library nearly 63 years late.

Donna added: “We worked out how much could have been due in fees and it comes to a whopping £2,847!

The spine of the book (Pic: OnFife)

“It arrived with a lovely letter from the borrower’s daughter who was able to give us a bit of detail.”

The sender explained that her late father had lived in Thornton in 1948. Whether he had just been a 20-year-old with other things on his mind at the time and forgot to return it or whether he chose to keep it, she would never know.

Touchingly, following on from last week’s Remembrance Day, she also wrote: “I find it fascinating to see the dates when this book was taken out, during the latter year of WW2 and that the war ended between stamps marked by librarians. “

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