Recently, after a 40-year, 10-month and 27-day absence, a long-missing item was finally returned to the Indiana State Library. Arriving in a United States Postal Service (USPS) box, the package was postmarked from Arlington, Virginia. The book inside was well-worn and much-used. As you can see in the lower right corner it must have also moonlighted as a coaster at some point. With a due date of Aug. 23, 1976, we can only image what an overdue fine would be back then. Today, we charge 25 cents a day for overdue books, which would make the fine $3,735.25.
The book? William Bast’s 1956 James Dean biography, which was published a year after the native Indiana actor’s death in a California auto accident. Bast was also Dean’s roommate at UCLA.
For now, the book goes back on the shelf with a flag for our conservator to find at a later date for repair work. As for the overdue fine, if there was circulation pardon that I could bestow, this would earn it. However, it had been missing for so long there is no way to trace who had it. Let this serve as a reminder to us all that it is clearly never too late to return an overdue library book. Even though it was due six years before I was born, I’m glad to see it back.
This blog post was written by Stephanie E. Smith, circulation supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, email the circulation supervisor at firstname.lastname@example.org