Overdue book returned to British library after 48 years

A British library said a package that arrived recently from Canada turned out to contain a book that had been due back more than 48 years earlier.

Wandsworth Libraries said the Tooting Library in London recently received a package mailed from Canada that contained a copy of A Confederate General from Big Sur by Richard Brautigan.

“Here at Wandsworth library service we were surprised and delighted this week to have a book returned to us in the post all the way from Canada,” the library said in a statement to the Wandsworth Times. “We were then even more surprised to find the book had been borrowed in 1974, and was overdue by approximately 48 years and 107 days.”

The library posted photos of the book on Twitter in the hopes of identifying the borrower. The former patron came forward and identified himself as Tony Spence, 72, a retired judge living in British Columbia.

Library officials said the book would have accumulated about $7,618.10 in late fees if fines weren’t capped at $10.50. Officials said they decided to waive the fee.

“We’re pleased to have the book back in a condition good enough to return to the shelves, if we wanted, and under the circumstances we’re waiving the fines,” the statement said. “We thank Mr. Spence for returning it and hope he enjoyed it.”