The book returned to the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts this week wasn't overdue by a week, a month or even a year. It was nearly a century overdue, and the fine came to $361.35.
"Facts I Ought to Know about the Government of My Country" was supposed to have been returned by May 10, 1910, The Associated Press reports.
According to The Sun Chronicle, Stanley Dudek of Mansfield returned a book to the New Bedford Public Library that was 99 years overdue. Dudek said someone must have checked the book out and, years later, gave it to his mother, Mary Piela, who emigrated from Poland in 1922 at the age of 14.
While she didn't speak any English when she arrived in the country, Dudek said his mother came to love her new home and went out of her way to find American-made products.
After his mother died in 1998, Dudek took a number of her possessions, including the book.
"She loved this country," he said. "She read this book back and forth."
Once he saw the library's insignia stamped on the book's inside cover, he knew he would eventually return it.
"They deserve to have it back so somebody else can make use of it," he said.
Stephen Fulchino, director of the New Bedford Library, said having a book returned after 99 years is a record during his 34 years as a librarian.
The book, which was printed in 1894, includes some anachronisms, saying, for example, that US senators were picked by state Legislatures, instead of a popular vote (which went into effect in 1913). The library will place it in its special-collections department as a historical artifact.
"All kinds of information in this book is wrong, but some is right, and it’s interesting to see what people learned back then,"’ Fulchino said, Boston Globe reports.
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