Books

Library Waives Fines After Overdue Book Returned 76 Years Late

A library has waived fines of more than $3,600 after an overdue book was returned — a whopping 76 years late.

Charlie Studdy came across This Way To The Tomba play by Ronald Duncan, while tidying up a bookcase at his house, and discovered it was due back on July 17, 1946.

It is believed the book was borrowed by his late mother, Eileen Hoyle, who he said was an avid reader, when she returned home to Haworth in West Yorkshire, England, from university.

This Way To The Tomb overdue book
Charlie Studdy came across “This Way To The Tomb,” a play by Ronald Duncan, while tidying up a bookcase at his house, and discovered it was due back on July 17, 1946.
Simon Galloway/Zenger

It had been on the library’s shelves for less than a month and had only been borrowed once prior to being taken out by Hoyle.

Studdy said forgetting to take it back would have been “out of character” for his mom.

When he contacted the library to own up to the overdue return, staff realized if they charged him the current rate of 15 pence a day, it would cost him an eye-watering 3,552.45 British pounds ($4,351.50).

However, Kingsley Library and Local Studies in Bradford waived the fines.

Studdy, of Goole, East Yorkshire, said: “It happened quite by chance.

Bradford library overdue book returned
When Charles Studdy (right) contacted Kingsley Library and Local Studies in Bradford, England, to own up to the overdue return, staff realized if they charged him the current rate of 15 pence a day, it would cost him an eye-watering 3,552.45 British pounds ($4,351.50). They waived the fine.
Simon Galloway/Zenger

“I was tidying up some bookshelves at the beginning of this week when I came across it.

“I didn’t recognize it and so I believe it came from my mother’s house after we cleared it out when she passed away nine years ago.

“It’s likely that it was borrowed from the library when she returned home from university for the holidays and forgot to take it back.”

Charlie Studdy This Way to the Tomb
Charlie Studdy came across This Way To The Tomb, a play by Ronald Duncan, while tidying up a bookcase at his house, and discovered it was due back on July 17, 1946. He believed the book was borrowed by his late mother, Eileen. Hoyle, who he said was an avid reader, when she returned home to Haworth in West Yorkshire, England, from university.
Simon Galloway/Zenger

“She wasn’t in a university drama group as far as I know, but she was a very wide and enthusiastic reader, so it’s not surprising she had a copy,” Studdy said.

“My mother loved books all the way through her life. She was an avid reader until the end.”

Hoyle studied at London University before being transferred to Cambridge University during World War II.

This Way To The Tomb overdue book
Charlie Studdy came across “This Way To The Tomb,” a play by Ronald Duncan, while tidying up a bookcase at his house, and discovered it was due back on July 17, 1946.
Simon Galloway/Zenger

She was a regional manager for the Citizens Advice Bureau later in her life and was dubbed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the organization.

“This is such a lovely story and it’s great to see the book being returned. It is now on display at our Keighley Library,” said Sarah Ferriby of the Bradford Council.

“We have operated several ‘fines amnesties’ during the pandemic to encourage readers to bring back their overdue books; however, 76 years is somewhat of a record for our libraries.

“We obviously wouldn’t charge Mr. Studdy for his mother’s overdue book, and readers can rest assured we would never charge more than the book is worth, however late it is!

“We would far rather get the books and the customers back wherever possible.

“Our Libraries Service is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year so it’s remarkable that this book has been on loan for over half of that time.”

The book is now on display in the library.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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