Woman Returns Library Book After 67 Years, Somehow Avoids Massive Fine, Skips Town

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Myths and Legends of Maoriland by AW Reed (copyright 1946) is not the world’s most famous book, nor its most sought-after. But one New Zealand woman liked it so much that after checking it out in 1948 from the Auckland library in New Zealand, she couldn’t quite bring herself to return it until 2016. That’s a solid 67 years and change! During that time, the book remained at her home, outside of Auckland, and she reportedly read it “many times” over the decades.

The Guardian reports that the woman told librarian Zoe Cornelius that she had been “meaning to return it” for years, and “seemed a bit embarrassed.” By the rate of overdue fines established in 1948—and not even adjusting the fine rate as it increased over time—the woman would have owed the equivalent of $17,000 in U.S. dollars. However, there was also a policy at the time excusing children from paying late fees, and the confused library has grandfathered her in to that deal. In other words, she gets off without paying a single penny. After the story became public, Cornelius said that other borrowers who owe late fees have been in touch with the library to see if they too could be exempt from late fees.

There’s no universal get-out-of-jail-free card in the offing, but it’s probably for the best that this one late fee was excused, since the woman dropped off the book and hightailed it out of there without giving her name. Smart move! And since library records from the ‘40s have been lost, so there’s no way of tracking her down.

Well, maybe one way…somebody get on the horn with Lieutenant Bookman, and find out if he takes international assignments.