Manitoba

The end of a chapter: Overdue book returned to Winnipeg library after 50 years

Staff at the Winnipeg Public Library received a surprise just before the holidays when they realized a book, checked out decades earlier, had been returned.

An unknown person borrowed a copy of Sarah Binks in 1968

A copy of Sarah Binks was returned to the Winnipeg Public Library 50 years after being checked out. The book has an old transaction card, which the library used before digitization. (Winnipeg Public Library)

Staff at the Winnipeg Public Library received a surprise just before the holidays when they realized a book, checked out decades earlier, had been returned.

"It has the old transaction cards we used to use. It's kind of fun to see those. Then you see the date, April 4, 1968 — that was before I was born," said Barbara Bourrier-LaCroix, a librarian at the Millennium Library.

An anonymous person had borrowed a copy of Sarah Binks 50 years earlier, checking the book out from the Cornish Library. It was returned to the St. James-Assiniboia branch just before the holidays.

A first-edition copy of Sarah Binks, written by Paul Hiebert, was returned to the Winnipeg Public Library 50 years overdue. (Winnipeg Public Library)

"They don't know who it was. It was someone who loved the book, judging by the condition it was in. It was well-loved, very well loved," said Bourrier-LaCroix.

The book was checked out before the Winnipeg Public Library introduced digitization, so it's unclear who took it out. The book was also returned via the library book chute, which means the story of how it was returned after many years is still a mystery.

Book by University of Manitoba professor

The book, a first-edition copy of Sarah Binks, was written by Paul Hiebert, a University of Manitoba professor. The book was first published in 1947.

The faux biography is a characterization of Sarah Binks, "the Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan."

As for the late fee, the maximum fine for an overdue adult collection book is $11.

"We do try to let customers know you can renew items, by computer, you can phone us to do it — there's a few different ways. But honestly, when materials come back we're just happy," said Bourrier-LaCroix.

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