(Really, really) overdue books returned to university’s library, after more … – Washington Post

The two books were returned to the Portland State University library earlier this month, bound with a rubber band.

“‘Borrowed’ these books about 1963 for my high school speech class,” read a note, which was left with the books. “They have moved with me many times. It is now time for them (to) go back home. Outdated — yes — but I’ll let you decide their fate now.”

Yeah — that means that the books — “Basic Principles of Speech” and “Preface to Critical Reading” — are about 52 years overdue. The note wasn’t signed, and a news release noted that officials don’t have records from that time period.

Whoever left them in the book drop shouldn’t worry, though. There’s no fine.

“They probably were feeling bad for a long time, and I feel sorry for them for that, but I think it’s great that they brought them back,” communications and outreach librarian Joan Petit told The Post. “I would love it if they stopped by and said hello, but it wouldn’t be so we could scold them.”

Here’s how Portland Oregonian described the books:

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 library’s 1.43 million books, but nowhere near as long as the world’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 doesn’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 wouldn’t be a fee, because librarians didn’t realize the books were gone in the first place, she explained. And anyway, they’ve been returned.

“At this point, it’s fun to have them back. It’s not really a problem anymore,” Petit said. “We didn’t know we were missing them.”

As to what will happen with the books now, well … that’s sort of unclear. They are unlikely to go back into circulation, Petit said, while adding that library officials were open to suggestions.

“We’ll do something with them,” she said. “But what exactly that will look like, we don’t know.”

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