Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Lost Library Book Returned … 122 years late!

Earlier this month, librarians in Australia were astounded when a rare book by Charles Darwin was returned, almost a century-and-a-quarter after its due date.

The first edition copy of Insectivorous Plants was borrowed from the lending library at Camden School of Arts on the outskirts of Sydney in 1889.

The book was found among the collection of retired vet, Ron Hyne, which had recently been donated to the University of Sydney. The university forwarded the book to the Camden library after noticing the borrowing stamp on the inside cover.

Spokesperson for Camden Council, Linda Campbell, said that they were delighted to have the book back in their possession. "It's been on a bit of a journey as far as we can tell," she said. "Where it's been we don't know... maybe down the back of a couch."

Hyne, for his part, has no idea how he came to be in possession of the book, but suspects he received it sometime during the 1950s as a gift from a colleague. He must surely have been relieved to hear that the library has generously agreed to waive the late fee … estimated to be around $35,000!

Interestingly, the lackadaisical borrower may have done the library a favour. Had the book been returned in a timely manner, it is likely that it would have been culled from the library’s collection when it became unpopular with readers.

The library has now made the book available for public viewing … but, perhaps unsurprisingly, it will no longer be available on loan.

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