'I probably can’t afford the overdue charge…'
An anonymous person checked out a book 47 years ago from the library and in an act that’s sure to bless them with an extra helping of good karma, they finally decided to return it. Earlier this month, Karen Rodricks, a library services supervisor at the library in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, opened a package that came in the mail and it contained a book from the ‘70s, "Chilton's Foreign Car Repair Manual."
In an attempt to avoid a gargantuan fine that may have accrued over nearly 50 years, the person who sent the book did so anonymously. Although they did include a thoughtful letter and a $200 donation to the library.
Rodricks told Minnesota Public Radio that it was the most overdue book that she’s ever seen make its way back to the library. “It occasionally happens, but what is so delightful about this book is the note," she said.
The note that accompanied the old car manual read:
In the mid 1970s, I was living in Lake Elmo and working on an old Mercedes Benz. I took out this book for reference. A few months later, I moved and apparently the book got packed up in the move.
47 years later, I found it in a trunk with other interesting things from the 1970s. It's a little overdue, but I thought you might want it back.
My apologies to anyone in Lake Elmo who was working on an old Benz in the last 47 years. I probably can't afford the overdue charge, but I will send you enough for another book.
The good news for the person who sent the book is that even though they did so anonymously, it wasn't necessary. The library no longer charges fines for overdue books, especially those checked out during the Ford administration.
“We haven't had daily fines for overdue materials for a long time, but we still charge a replacement fee if an item is lost or damaged,” the Washington County Library wrote on Facebook. “Back in January we also eliminated what was called a ‘processing fee’ related to extremely overdue items, so now there are no charges for materials that are returned late, just those that are lost or damaged.”
However, the library will happily keep the $200 donation. "The library always needs money, and we can always, we probably will put it towards books," Rodricks told CBS.
Rodricks believes that the person’s decision to return the book shows they are a good citizen. “It expresses that he valued having access to this book 47 years ago and he values the library enough to return it,” she said. “He just took the time, and it means the most to us. We hope other people feel this way about the library, too.”
She told CBS that unfortunately, the "Chilton's Foreign Car Repair Manual” isn’t in good enough condition to be lent again, but she’s happy to keep the note. Let’s just hope that there’s been no one in Lake Elmo with a broke-down Mercedes who couldn’t get around for a few decades because the Chilton’s manual was checked out of the library.