It would be a $6400.00 fine at 20-cents per day.
But there was no charge, of course. Larchmont Public Library’s staff are thrilled by the return of Youth and Two Other Stories by Joseph Conrad, which was due on October 11, 1933, and returned at the end of September 2023, almost 90 years late. The circulation card in the sleeve in the back of the book – now a bit of an anachronism – shows the date by which the book was to be returned.
The volume was sent back by the Joanie Morgan, stepdaughter of the book’s borrower, Jimmie Ellis (1893-1978) who was a New York City advertising executive living in Larchmont with his wife and two sons, about two blocks from the library. She found it this past July at the family’s summer cottage in Hot Springs, VA.
It was Larchmont Librarian Caroline Cunningham that took the call. “I was on the desk here,” she says, “and I was very surprised and excited, though at first she wasn’t sure if she would give it back to us or to an antique book dealer.” In the end, it was sent back to the library.
The borrowed book was published in 1925. It appears, from the book’s spine, that the library’s holdings were embossed in gold, “Larchmont Public Library.”
Ellis also wrote a book, The Jumping Frog from Jasper County, about the history of advertising, a copy of which was also included, along with a request to add it to the Library’s permanent collection.
“It’s our longest overdue book for sure,” says Cunningham, who adds that now that the catalog is digital, lost books are purged from the system and their due dates unknown. The book will likely be put on display at the library.
But no one will be paying a huge fine. These days, and perhaps back then, any book returned 30 days or more after the due date is charged only a flat fee of $5.00.