The two books were returned to the Portland State University library earlier this month, bound with a rubber band.
â€œâ€˜Borrowedâ€™ these books about 1963 for my high school speech class,â€ read a note, which was left with the books. â€œThey have moved with me many times. It is now time for them (to) go back home. Outdated â€” yes â€” but Iâ€™ll let you decide their fate now.â€
Yeah â€” that means that the books â€” â€œBasic Principles of Speechâ€ and â€œPreface to Critical Readingâ€ â€” are about 52 years overdue. The note wasnâ€™t signed, and a news release noted that officials donâ€™t have records from that time period.
Whoever left them in the book drop shouldnâ€™t worry, though. Thereâ€™s no fine.
â€œThey probably were feeling bad for a long time, and I feel sorry for them for that, but I think itâ€™s great that they brought them back,â€ communications and outreach librarian Joan Petit told The Post. â€œI would love it if they stopped by and said hello, but it wouldnâ€™t be so we could scold them.â€
The two returned books contain underlines in pen and pencil. Their hardback spines and covers are slightly frayed. Their absence went unnoticed for many years among the libraryâ€™s 1.43 million books, but nowhere near as long as the worldâ€™s most overdue book ever returned.
The last check-out stamp on one of the books is from Jan. 3, 1963; the other was only supposed to be used in the library, according to the news release on the items. The release notes that the library doesnâ€™t issue fines for overdue books; it just gives replacement fees.
Replacing a book carries a $110 charge, Suzanne Pardington Effros, a university spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. But this time, there wouldnâ€™t be a fee, because librarians didnâ€™t realize the books were gone in the first place, she explained. And anyway, theyâ€™ve been returned.
â€œAt this point, itâ€™s fun to have them back. Itâ€™s not really a problem anymore,â€ Petit said. â€œWe didnâ€™t know we were missing them.â€
As to what will happen with the books now, well â€¦ thatâ€™s sort of unclear. They are unlikely to go back into circulation, Petit said, while adding that library officials were open to suggestions.
â€œWeâ€™ll do something with them,â€ she said. â€œBut what exactly that will look like, we donâ€™t know.â€