Wonderful Engineering

Old Woman Finally Returns The Book She Borrowed In 1948. Here’s The Story

This woman is my slacker hero. She just returned a book 68 years after she first borrowed it from a local library in Auckland, New Zealand. The book was children’s book named “Myths and Legends of Maoriland” and was borrowed by the little girl she was back then and didn’t return it back till it was 24,605 days overdue!

Now the library card that she issued is shown here:

Notice that it mentions monetary penalties if the book hasn’t been returned within the due date. For one week above the deadline, three pence were to be charged, and a pence each for the day after! It is to be noted that New Zealand used to have local pounds as the national currency before it switched to New Zealand Dollars in 1967. So, even if we don’t add the inflation factor and the currency change, the woman supposedly owed $24,000 (17,000 USD) in fines when she gave back this book. But, as luck would have it she didn’t know but juveniles were barred from late fees and she was a juvenile when she borrowed it first so she escaped the mammoth fine!

Librarian Zoe Cornelius was mighty surprised to see such an old book being returned and had to make improvisations because the library system had changed several times in between the last 68 years. The old lady had read the books several times over in the ensuing decades and had been meaning to return it for fifty years! Talk about indecisiveness!

She was quite embarrassed when she brought it back but Cornelius was pleased as the book was in good shape and had become a part of a nice household for such a long period. I bet if the original librarian is alive, he wouldn’t be pleased be about it one bit! The library incidentally holds three copies of the same edition and none is allowed to be taken out of the library now. Maybe her overdue act forced this move back in 1948!

And here I was, who returned a book only one year late and had to cough up a 20 $ fine! I should have waited a “bit” more!