In the spring of 1979, a children’s book was checked out from the Deschutes Public Library. This week, it finally found its way back.
“The Hockey Trick” by Scott Corbett was returned via mail, with a note and a $20 donation to the library.
Library staff tried to reach out to the person who sent it, but have not been able to get a hold of them.
The original due date, noted on a stamp inside the book, was April 25, 1979.
“One of the fun things is, of course, the inlay of that old practice we used to have where we used to stamp in the due date and put it in there,” said Mayra Corn, the Library Operations Manager. “A couple of other things are the price of this book, $4.95, which for a kid’s hardcover book, I think a lot of parents will relate that that might not be an accurate price anymore.”
As far as anyone knows, “The Hockey Trick” is the longest overdue book in the library’s history.
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It just so happened to be returned during National Return Borrowed Books Week, avoiding what might’ve been a hefty fine in years past.
“For the past few years we’ve gone fine and fee-free,” Corn said. “We noticed that for a lot of people, a couple of days late added up over time, and it created a barrier where people could no longer use us. And we wanted to really let people of the community understand that we are forgiving, we do care.”
It’s a change which, surprisingly, hasn’t led to more late returns. Even books as late as “The Hockey Trick” might just end up back on the shelf.
“We’ll take a look at it and make sure,” Corn said. “If it’s well loved, it might have earned its time in retirement after 45 years of service. We do honor that, and we wouldn’t make it over-work too. But if it’s in good condition, it’s going right back up.”
The book’s journey is a mystery. But now, at least a happy ending is guaranteed.
“This is a really, really sweet reunion with us and the book. And to the person who returned it, we just say thank you. We’re so excited. Come back, we’re so excited!” Corn said.
You may not receive fees and fines anymore for overdue books at the local library, but you may still have to pay the full price of the book at some point if it is never returned.
Forty-four years might be the longest book checked out in Deschutes County, but the world record is 288 years. A book checked out in 1667 from Sidney Sussex College in England was finally returned in 1956.