Library Waives $7,600 Fee For Book 91-Year-Old Man Returned 61 Years Late

Youth is wasted on the young, some might say, but not everyone tries to make up for the wastefulness of their earlier days when they’re all grown up. One 91-year-old man wasn’t about to let the capriciousness of his 30-year-old self go unanswered forever, however, turning in a library book that was 61 years late.

As one might expect, there was a hefty fee for such a tardy return, reports the University of Liverpool, where Ron had been a student decades ago: He technically owed up to £4,500 (or around $7,600) for the borrowed book Structure and Function in Primitive Society.

Back in 1953, the man was working as a research student at the university, and liked the book so much he decided to keep it when he moved to London to continue his work.

But years later, when he went to slim down his collection of books, he realized he’d kept the tome a bit too long. When his son-in-law took him on a recent tour of his old Liverpool haunts recently, he stopped by the library to drop off the overdue book.

“Ron had been warned very firmly by the friends he plays cards with at the local pub that he would be landed with an enormous fine, and feel the full force of the law,” his son-in-law joked. “They didn’t expect to see him again.”

The university librarian decided to be lenient in this one case, noting that while overdue books are a serious matter, he decided to remit the fine on the condition that Ron agreed “henceforth, to live an exemplary life and return all his books on time.”

It’s a good thing the fee was waived, added the son-in-law, because “Neither of us is fit enough to do much running.”

91-year-old escapes £4K fine when returning University library book 61 years late [University of Liverpool]

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  1. PottaHarry says:

    This is such bulls#!t, they should do what RedBox is doing. Fines should only be accumulated up to the cost of the book (price of the book + staff time). At that point just consider that you sold him the book and get a new one.

    • furiousd says:

      It’s a much better policy: if they come to return the book have them pay the fine and consider the book sold after you’ve replaced it. If they don’t want the book anymore then consider it a tax-deductible donation.

    • Cara says:

      That’s what our library system does. It’s X amount a day, to a cap of Y (I think it’s $5 for books and media). You’ll also get hit with the lost item fee, which is the cost of replacement – but if you bring the item back, you only have to pay the overdue fine maximum.

      I am definitely baffled by systems that would continue to charge until the bill is in the hundreds or thousands. I wonder if the system actually works that way, or if someone is just taking the daily late fee and multiplying it.

    • C0Y0TY says:

      Did you happen to read the part where they didn’t take the charges seriously and he didn’t have to pay?

  2. MathManv2point0 says:

    Let him off? I say throw the book at him. heh.

  3. SirJanes says:

    I was working at a U of Alaska when a patron came in to borrow additional books even though he had several thousand dollars in outstanding fines. I turned him down but the head librarian gave him the books he wanted. He was not a student or faculty or any such. Just a local want-to-be communist. Perhaps the head librarian was a sympathizer.