Library book lent in ’81 returned 39 years late; €5 late fee collected

Book returned to a Gelderland Zuid library 39 years, 13 weeks and five days late, 8 June 2020
Book returned to a Gelderland Zuid library 39 years, 13 weeks and five days late, 8 June 2020Bibliotheek Gelderland Zuid, @bieb024Twitter

A book that was checked out from a library branch in Groesbeek in February 1981 was finally returned over 39 years past due. The borrower was charged a five euro late fee for the return, because of the Gelderland Zuid library system’s cap on accumulated late fees.

“If this was not the case, the fine would have risen to 1,530.75 euros,” the library said on social media Monday evening.

The culprit had checked out a copy of Terug naar Oegstgeest, published in English as Return to Oegstgeest, a 1965 autobiographical novel by noted author and artist Jan Wolkers. Seeing the return date stamped on the inside cover of the book gave the librarian a brief moment of bewilderment.

Officially, the book was returned 39 years, 13 weeks and five days late. “Sometimes, as a library employee, you cannot believe your eyes,” a staffer wrote on social media. “It must have been difficult for the reader to let this go.”

Even had the library patron held on to the book just long enough for the film adaptation by Theo van Gogh to be released, it still would have been returned over six years late.

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