In a delightful twist of literary history, a library book, long overdue by over a century, has found its way back to the St Paul Public Library in Minnesota. The book, titled “Famous Composers,” a tribute to musical luminaries like Bach and Mozart, had its last adventure in the hands of a reader back in 1919.
This serendipitous return unfolded as someone sifted through a relative’s belongings, stumbling upon this literary time capsule. The library’s checkout slip, a relic from times gone by, bears witness to its last known borrowing in 1919.
Injecting a bit of humor into the situation, St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter declared in a tweet that no late fines would be imposed. Libraries, including St Paul, embraced a trend of abolishing late fees in 2019, reflecting a broader shift in library policies.
The future journey of this centenarian book hangs in uncertainty. John Larson, the St Paul Public Library’s digital library coordinator, expressed skepticism about its return to circulation due to its delicate condition. Nonetheless, he envisions the library cherishing it as an artifact with historical significance.
In his 25 years at the library, Larson notes that it’s the oldest book ever returned. While occasional returns after a few decades are not unheard of, this particular book’s century-long journey adds a unique chapter to the library’s history.