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Extraordinary Library Book Makes Long Overdue Return

The St Paul Public Library in Minnesota has received a rare and remarkable return – a book that has been overdue for more than a century. The book, titled “Famous Composers” and featuring the works of renowned musicians such as Bach and Mozart, was last borrowed in 1919, according to a checkout slip. Despite being more than a century late, the library will not be fining the patron who returned the book, as it has discontinued charging late fees since 2019.

The book’s return was a surprise to the library staff, who were sorting through a relative’s belongings and stumbled upon the volume. John Larson, the library’s digital library co-ordinator, has been working at the library for 25 years and has never seen a book returned in such a state of disrepair. “It has reached a point where it’s not just an old book, it’s an artefact. It has a little bit of history to it,” he said.

Larson expressed doubts that the book will be returned to circulation, citing its fragile condition. However, the library has decided to keep the book, recognizing its historical significance and the rarity of such an occurrence. “There’s been a time or two when something has come back and maybe it has been checked out for 20 or 30 years, but nothing where it looks like it has been out for some 100 years,” Larson said.

St Paul Public Library in Minnesota

The book’s journey to the present day is a testament to its storybook status. “Famous Composers” is a compilation of the works of some of the most iconic musicians in history, including Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The book’s significance extends beyond its musical content, however. Its century-long absence from the library shelves only adds to its allure, making it a unique artefact for the library and its patrons.

The story of the book’s return has captured the imagination of the public, with St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter taking to Twitter to joke about the lack of fine. “No fine, just a great story!” his tweet read. The incident has also sparked curiosity about the book’s past and the person who borrowed it so many years ago. While the exact whereabouts of the patron remain unknown, the book’s return has left a lasting legacy, solidifying its place in the library’s history.

In an era where digital media dominates the book terrain, the physical return of “Famous Composers” serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving tangible artifacts of our cultural heritage. As libraries continue to adapt to changing times, events like this rare book return serve as a powerful reminder of the value of our collective cultural past.

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