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Book checked out for 110 years returned to Boise Public Library

If the late-fee policy from the book was checked out were still in place, the fine would have been about $800. However, things have changed.

BOISE, Idaho — A book that belonged to Boise's old Carnegie Library was checked in earlier this month at the Garden Valley library, 110 years after it was last checked out.

The book was titled New Chronicles of Rebecca, a sequel to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, by Kate Wiggin.

It was published in 1907, and was last checked out on November 8, 1911.

After someone dropped off the book in Garden Valley, it was transferred to the Boise Public Library.

“The checkout desk noticed that it was rather old and it didn't have any current markings, so they looked into it,” said Anne Marie Martin, a library assistant at the Boise Public Library. "I don't think anybody here has seen a book checked in 100 years later, 110 years later.”

There are older books in the Boise Public Library, but it’s the years that the book spent off the library shelves that catch people by surprise. The pages in the book are still crisp, words are still legible, and the pictures are crystal clear.

"It's in very good shape. I think the condition would be very good to excellent," Martin said.

Inside the book there is print that reads “Books may be kept two weeks without renewal unless otherwise labeled; a fine of two cents per day is imposed on overdue books.” 

At more than 40,000 days late, if the library still had the same late-fee policy, whoever checked it out would owe more than $800, but the library’s late policies have changed.

"The book was originally $1.50, so that would have been the cost we would have charged. We never charge more than the cost of the book for the fine,” Martin said.

The New Chronicles of Rebecca is valued today at $5 and can be purchased online. The library will keep the book in the History room so visitors can come to look at it and read from it, but the book can no longer be checked out.

“Unless somebody wants to come forward and be like, 'hey, this was my grandmother and she moved to wherever and was always embarrassed she hadn't returned this book or something,'" Martin said. "It would be great if we could find out what happened, but that said, sometimes there are just mysteries in history."

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