Book Returned to Pa. Library 50 Years Late With $20 & Funny Note on Family's 'Running Joke'
A book checked out of a Pennsylvania library 50 years ago has finally made its way back home, marking the final chapter of a decades-long journey.
At some point in 1971, a little girl checked out a 1967 copy of Coins You Can Collect by Burton Hobson from the Plymouth Public Library — and never brought it back, the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice reported, per the Associated Press.
But last month, the long-overdue book made a surprise return to the library, complete with a $20 bill and a cheeky note written from the book's point of view.
"Fifty years ago (yes 50!), a little girl checked me out of this library in 1971," the letter reportedly read. "At this time, she didn't know they were going to move from Plymouth. Back then, kids weren't told things like that. As you can see, she took very good care of me."
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The letter gave some insight into the book's long life since it left the Plymouth shelf, explaining that while it had been often packed away for frequent moves, it kept plenty of company, and was "always with many other books."
The writer of the note said that for years, she meant to send the book back to the library, but it never happened — and soon became a punchline.
"This became a running joke in my family. Each time we moved, they always asked me if I packed 'the Plymouth Book,'" she wrote, according to the Citizens' Voice.
Though the borrower acknowledged that $20 wouldn't be nearly enough to cover the fines racked up over 50 years, she said she hoped it would be used to pay off the fines of other patrons.
Laura Keller, the library's director, told the Voice that she did indeed use it to pay "some hefty fines" on the card of a young mother who'd had her borrowing privileges suspended due to fines exceeding $5.
She reportedly added that the book and the letter will be placed on display at the library.