British Columbia

Book borrowed 42 years ago returned to B.C. library

Better late than never?

Without the $10 cap on late fees, borrower would have faced fine of more than $4,500

A library book that was returned 42 years late to the Vancouver Island Regional Library is shown in a handout photo. (Vancouver Island Regional Library/Canadian Press)

A book about surviving in the outdoors has been returned to a B.C. library more than four decades after it was checked out.

Wilderness Living: A Complete Handbook and Guide to Pioneering in North America was borrowed from the Union Bay branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library in 1977.

It was returned anonymously to the Courtenay branch last Monday.

Library spokesperson David Carson says the book's subject matter "adds to the mystique of its whereabouts over the past four-plus decades."

He says the book is in excellent condition considering its extended absence from the shelves.

Carson says overdue materials for adults accrue a daily fine of 30 cents until a $10 cap is reached — which is lucky for whoever who signed it out.

"The fine would have been in excess of $4,500 without the cap," said Carson, adding that he doesn't know if the book will go back into circulation.

He noted that it's still being sold and is considered a valuable resource for outdoor survival.

Carson said although ideally books are returned before their due date, it's not unusual for items to be returned late.

"But to have a book returned from the time when Stars Wars first came out — and for it to be in such good condition — is definitely not common," he said.

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