An overdue book was returned after nearly 50 years. The retired Marine who had forgotten to return History of the Crusades to the University of Dayton library mailed in the book that’s about to reenter circulation.
A library book that had been overdue by nearly 50 years has been thoughtfully returned by the borrower. It was returned in rather pristine condition to a university library in southwest Ohio. The borrower, a retired Marine, had checked out the book in 1967, but his duties to the nation beckoned and the book was presumed lost.
The freshman who made the mistake has been identified as James Philips. Young Philips apparently up and left the educational institution to join the Marine Corps. The book lay forgotten amidst a lot of personal belongings that have a story of their own travels.
“Please accept my apologies for the absence of the enclosed book History of the Crusades. I apparently checked it out when I was a freshman student and somehow it got misplaced all these years.”
Philips confessed that he had forgotten all about the book and added that he might have picked it up “either for a class or just because it looked interesting.” The retired Marine lives in Minnesota. After the gentleman returned the book through old-fashioned mail, he was contacted by the university. He then narrated how the book that had to be returned within 14 days ended up taking nearly 50 years.
After Philips left for the Marine Corps, as per standard practice, his belongings were gathered up and sent to his parents. The book lay silently among his personal belongings. The parents appear to have kept Philip’s belongings without going through them, for the book lay forgotten till their death. After the parents had passed away, the items were once again shipped, this time to Philip’s brother, reported Monterey Herald. Interestingly, it was Philips who was supposed to receive them, but an oversight on someone’s part caused the lot to be delivered to Philips’ brother. Realizing the items don’t belong to him, Philips’ brother mailed the items to Philips,
“He eventually realized the error and to my great surprise I received a box of goods from him. Lo and behold! Among those items in the box was the History of the Crusades book.”
While Philips is apologetic about the book that wasn’t returned for nearly half a century, Katy Kelly, the university’s communications and outreach librarian, candidly confessed the university had no clue the book was missing,
“It was interesting to see a book that had no evidence of our modern technology returned. It still has the old borrowing card stamped with dates back to 1950. It was very thoughtful of him to do this because not everyone would choose to return it after so long.”
Back in the day, library books had simple cards that contained the details about the book, the chronological history about when it was borrowed, and the due date. Each book had to be presented to the librarian and a stamp was imprinted on the card. It was through these cards that the books were tracked. It appears when the library’s system was updated; the book wasn’t entered into the new digital system, once again, due to someone’s oversight. Kelly added that the book will now be formally entered into the library’s digital book tracking system using a bar code.
[Photo by Duncan Walker/Getty Images]