Employees at an Indiana library opened a package postmarked from New Mexico and made a surprising discovery: a book that was nearly 52 years overdue.
The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library said in a Facebook post that the book, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, arrived in the mail along with a letter from the woman who checked it out when she was only 11 years old.
The book, a sequel to Alcott’s Little Women, had been due back July 31, 1969.
Melanie Faithful said she checked the book out when she was a young girl and ended up keeping it past the due date when she fell in love with the story. The book came with her when the family moved to Tennessee two years later, and it made multiple moves with her in the ensuing years.
Faithful, who now lives in Santa Fe, said she was sorting through her books recently when she came across Little Men and decided it was time to return it.
She mailed the book to the library along with an apologetic note and a check for a donation to the library.
“It wouldn’t cover what my entire fee would be if they had compound interest from 1969, but maybe it’ll keep them from being mad at me,” Faithful told the Kokomo Tribune.
Lisa Fipps, director of marketing at Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, said library records didn’t even have the book listed as missing, likely as a result of cataloging changes over the years. She said the facility doesn’t charge late fees for children’s or young adult section books, but even at the 1969 rate Faithful wouldn’t have faced a fine of more than $5.
Fipps said the book will probably end up being sold at an upcoming library sale, and she is hoping to buy it for her own collection to commemorate Faithful’s story.