Library book returned 78 years later

ATTLEBORO, Mass. — – It took nearly 80 years, but a book borrowed during the Great Depression has been returned to a Massachusetts public library. 

The Attleboro Public Library posted on its Facebook page Thursday pictures of a copy of “The Young Lady at Home,” by T.S. Arthur. The book was returned this week. The due date stamped at the back of the book? Nov. 21, 1938.

“From 1938 we have no records of whose book it was, you know we were not searching this person out,” librarian Amy Rhilinger told CBS Boston

The 19th century book “seemed to be some type of guide for behavior,” says Rhilinger.

A library regular found the book in a basement in bad shape moldy and torn. Library staff members kept the book secure in an Attleboro archive but decided to get rid of it, fearing the mold could spread to other books.

Library staff can’t help but wonder who checked the book out in 1938. Back then, the world was on the brink of war and maybe the person who checked it out was a young Attleboro woman who wanted to ignore it all.

“Who was it? was somebody sick and there was a family emergency or did they say ‘oh I thought my husband was going to return it, I thought Aunt Gertrude was going to return it,'” says Rhilinger.

These days, the library charges ten cents a day for an overdue book. So, if the person who checked it out in 1938 came forward, they would owe almost $3,000.  


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