63 years overdue: Alabama man returns library book checked out in 1952

People are returning some very overdue library books.

People are returning some very overdue library books.

(IPGGutenbergUKLtd / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

An Alabama man held onto a library book for 63 years; when he returned it last week, he told the librarian, “I’m a slow reader.”

Bobby Rice was kidding. He checked out the book, “Lydia Bailey” by Kenneth Roberts, from his high school library 63 years ago. It’s a mostly forgotten historical novel published in 1947 and set in the years after America’s Revolutionary War.

When Rice returned it to the school, the current librarian totaled his late fees, which came to about $1,500. She didn’t have the heart to charge him and waived the fee.

The book had been checked out before she was born.

Rice, a former teacher, told television station WAFF, “I would want my students to turn their book in.”

Perhaps he was inspired by the recent news of an Oregon library patron who returned two books 52 years after they were due.


That person, perhaps fearing the late fees, anonymously left two books in the drop box of the Oregon State University Library, along with a note, the Oregonian reports.

“‘Borrowed’ these books about 1963 for my high-school speech class. They have moved with me many times,” the note read. “It is now time for them [to] go back home. Outdated – yes – but I’ll let you decide their fate now.”

The borrower needn’t have worried — the Oregon State University library, which does charge to replace books, no longer charges late fees for overdue books.

But don’t try that in Los Angeles: The fees at the L.A. Public Library for a book 63 years overdue would total more than $8,000.

Book news and more; I’m @paperhaus on Twitter