Decades-Overdue Children’s Book Makes Its Way Back to Library

In a heartwarming turn of events, a local library has recently received an overdue children’s book more than 30 years after its due date. ‘But Not the Hippopotamus’ by Sandra Boynton, a book that first hit the shelves in 1982, was supposed to be returned to the library in August 1993 but only returned recently.

The library in question, St. Charles City County Library in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, has adopted a “fine-free” policy, sparing the borrower from what could have been a substantial late fee. More importantly, the library staff expressed delight in the book’s return and in welcoming back the patron after such a long time.

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A representative from the library shared their joy: “A customer returned this Sandra Boynton book to our WingHaven Branch today. It’s been away since 1993. We’re thrilled to have it back and even more so to reconnect with the customer.”

They also reassured the public, “It’s never too late to return to the library, especially now that we’ve eliminated fines.”

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The story sparked various reactions from locals. One person noted the passage of time, saying, “The child this was read to is all grown up now.” Others shared their relief and amusement on social media. Emma admitted to feeling less guilty about her overdue book. At the same time, Kevin noted how children’s books often disappear into “the weirdest places.” Alexis humorously congratulated the borrower on finally finishing the book, and Chantelle and Laura shared their appreciation for it.

In a related anecdote, July of this year saw the return of a book to a US library a staggering 120 years after its due date. ‘An Elementary Treatise on Electricity’ by James Clerk Maxwell, checked out in 1903, was returned to the New Bedford Free Public Library in Massachusetts. The book was discovered by Stewart Plein, Curator of Rare Books and Printed Resources at the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, but it still had its original checkout card. Jodi Goodman, a librarian at New Bedford, expressed her surprise at the book’s return after such an extended period and confirmed that the library would not seek to collect late fees.

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