The old adage “better late than never” applies to many things in life. Ask the librarian at your local library, and he or she will probably tell you that returning long-overdue books is one of them. As WLJA News in Washington, D.C. reports, a patron recently returned a book to the Silver Spring Library in Maryland 73 years after it was due.
A worn, illustrated copy of The Postman was, appropriately, mailed to the library with a letter attached. In it, a woman explained that her family had checked out the book in 1946 when she was just a toddler. “The family then moved to Canada on short notice and the book was packed up with everything else,” the library wrote, summarizing the gist of her letter.
Even if she happened to forget where the book came from, she didn’t have to look far. A stamp inside it reads “Property of Silver Spring Library,” which is part of Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Libraries system.
It’s an especially rare find because the library no longer carries books by that particular author, Charlotte Kuh. Its value has likely increased with time, too. A copy of The Postman from 1929 is currently selling on Amazon for $29, and another book in the sames series from 1934 is available for $25.
Noble deeds like these make headlines from time to time. In 2017, Massachusetts’s Attleboro Public Library received a copy of T.S. Arthur’s The Young Lady at Home 78 years after it had been checked out. Likewise, a rare copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde had been “lost” for the same length of time, but was ultimately returned to the Chicago Public Library in 2012. The library’s then-marketing director, Ruth Lednicer, said the woman who returned the book feared she’d be punished for coming forward.
“She kept saying, ‘You’re not going to arrest me?'” Lednicer said, “and we said, ‘No, we’re so happy you brought it back.'” Like we said: It’s never too late.
[h/t WLJA News]