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Long overdue: A book was returned to a Washington library 81 years after it was checked out

Overdue library book
Posted at 4:02 PM, Jun 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-11 16:02:34-04

(CNN) — A library in western Washington state recently received a book so long overdue, World War II was happening when it was last checked out.

Brad Bitar returned a copy of “The Bounty Trilogy” by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall to the Aberdeen Timberland Library on Monday – way past its original due date in March 1942.

Bitar, who lives in Olympia, Washington, told CNN the book had been sitting in his garage for a couple of years before he returned it to its rightful home.

He did not know the person who had checked out the book 81 years ago and said they may have left it behind while visiting his family’s now-closed store in Hoquiam, Washington.

Bitar collects historical artifacts and found the book – which was published in 1932 – among the antique items left behind from the store, he said.

“My assumption was that the library was probably not going to be interested in taking it back,” Bitar said.

His assumption was far from correct.

“The person that accepted the book I think was really stunned and kind of couldn’t believe it,” Anna Lisa Rasmussen, social media specialist for the Timberland Regional Library system, told CNN.

The public library system, which includes Aberdeen Timberland Library,posted the unexpected return on social media.

“If overdue fines had accrued at the rate of $.02/day, barring holidays and Sundays as it outlines on the card, the patron would owe about $484.80,” Rasmussen wrote in the Instagram post’s caption.

But the person who last checked out the book wouldn’t have to worry about that hefty fine. The library stopped charging late fees in 2020 to remove financial barriers that prevent people from visiting, Rasmussen said.

The post about the book “has stirred up people saying, ‘I actually read that book recently, I really liked it,’ or, ‘I read that when I was a teenager,’” she said.

“The Bounty Trilogy” covers the events surrounding the mutiny on the British Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty, according to itsAmazon description.

Bitar told CNN he checked the value of his copy of the trilogy online: It is worth at least $1,200 today, according to his findings.

However, the recently returned antique will “most likely” not be placed back into circulation, according to Rasmussen. “It definitely has shown its age,” she said.