Lost, long overdue Yellowknife library books returned from...Toronto?

A long distance book exchange took place between two public libraries after books from Yellowknife and Toronto mysteriously landed in each other's drop boxes this month.

Librarians mail back books that ended up in wrong dropboxes...3,000 km from each other

Katy Harmer, assistant librarian at the Yellowknife Public Library, displays five books returned to Yellowknife by the Toronto Public Library last week. (Emily Rendell-Watson/CBC)

A long distance book exchange took place between two public libraries after books from Yellowknife and Toronto mysteriously landed in each other's drop boxes this month. 

Katy Harmer, assistant librarian at the Yellowknife Public Library, was surprised when she received a package from the Toronto Public Library last week containing five books. She thought they were lost because they had been due back in Yellowknife in December 2014. 

The books, all suspense thrillers by author Sidney Sheldon, had somehow travelled 3,000 kilometres to end up at a Toronto Public Library branch. 

In a novel-worthy coincidence, Harmer received the package only days after she had mailed a book back to Toronto, a guide to German idioms that was returned in Yellowknife's drop box.

The Toronto Public Library posted a photo of the book and the note Harmer attached when they received it.

"It makes you realize that there are people on either end of these books. It's not just books going here and there but librarians all over the country doing the same work," said Harmer.

This isn't the first time Harmer has dealt with misplaced books. She once mailed a book back to a school in Alberta. The student who'd lost it was glad to get it back and not pay the fine.

In another case, a Yellowknife library book was given up for lost on a plane to Halifax. It made its way back to N.W.T.'s capital thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Elizabeth Lee, who works at the Toronto Public Library, said she sends dozens of books every week back to other libraries.

"Books come from all over the world and even though they get returned back home the books are enjoyed by so many people in between," said Lee.

Lee said each lost book has been passed through so many hands that readers may never know the whole story.

Both Lee and Harmer agree it's their job to make sure books ultimately get home.

"We all have the same mandate to help people read and that means getting the books back to the people who need them," said Harmer.

The five wayward Sidney Sheldon novels are now back on the shelves at the Yellowknife Public Library.