Man returns overdue library book nearly 100 years after it was checked out

An overdue book has been returned to a Northern California library after nearly 100 years.

Overdue by 96 years, it was checked out in 1927 and was recently returned to the St. Helena Public Library, roughly 65 miles north of San Francisco, the library told California television station KSBW.

The man who returned the book did not share many details aside from mentioning "something about his father," Chris Kreiden, director of the library, told the outlet.

"One of my staff members brought it, (they) came up and said, ‘Oh, somebody had returned that book.’ … They thought it was really cool,” Kreiden said. “It was a really old book, and we didn't realize quite how old it was.”

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The book, “A History of the United States” by Benson Lossing, was published in 1892. 

The book isn’t in great shape and is missing a spine, Kreiden told the outlet. It was among the first titles available for readers in the community to check out when the library was considered a subscription service. Back then, it would have cost about 25 cents month to check out books. 

The overdue bill is estimated at about $1,700, but "I don't think we would've charged that much at any point," Kreiden told KSBW.

Staff at the library have no idea where the book could have been all this time, and Kreiden told the outlet this is the first time the library has seen a book checked out so long ago.

"To have it be from this library from that far back is really incredible.”