Book Overdue for More Than a Century Returned to US Library: 'It's an Artifact'


A library book that was more than a century overdue finally was returned in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Titled “Famous Composers” and featuring the likes of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, the tome turned up while someone was sorting through a relative’s belongings.

The St. Paul Public Library checkout slip shows the book was last borrowed in 1919, Minnesota Public Radio reported Friday.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joked Saturday on social media that there would be no fine.

The library, like many across the country, stopped charging late fees in 2019.

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The future of the book is uncertain. John Larson, the St. Paul Public Library’s digital library coordinator, said he doubts it will go back into circulation because of its delicate condition, but he expects the library to hang onto it.

“It has reached a point where it’s not just an old book, it’s an artifact. It has a little bit of history to it,” he said.

Larson said in his 25 years of working for the library, it was the oldest book he ever saw returned.

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“There’s been a time or two when something has come back and maybe it has been checked out for 20 or 30 years, but nothing where it looks like it has been out for some 100 years,” he said.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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