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Overdue Library Book Checked Out in 1927 Returned by Mystery Man After Almost 100 Years

"All of us are just, you know, wondering where the book could have been for so long," said the director of the St. Helena Public Library

St. Helena Public Library Returned overdue library book
St. Helena Public Library Returned overdue library book

An overdue book called A History of the United States has just been returned to a California library 96 years after it was checked out.

According to the St. Helena Public Library, the book was dropped off by a man sometime last week.

"One of my staff members came up and said 'Oh somebody had returned that book,'" library director Chris Kreiden told CBS outlet KOVR. "They thought it was really cool. We didn't realize quite how old it was — it was falling apart."

Related:Book Returned to Pa. Library 50 Years Late With $20 & Funny Note on Family's 'Running Joke'

In fact, the book is barely bound anymore.

"I'm afraid to touch it," the director said during an interview with CBS affiliate KPIX-TV.

To keep it from further deteriorating, the artifact is now on display in the Napa County library's entrance. Featured prominently in a glass case for safekeeping, the book's pages are tattered and its cover is frayed.

A note inside the book, which was published in 1892, reads: "This book may be kept for two weeks."

St. Helena Public Library Returned overdue library book on display
St. Helena Public Library Returned overdue library book on display

"All of us are just, you know, wondering where the book could have been for so long, you know, from being checked out in 1927," Kreiden said, per KPIX-TV. "To have it be from this library from that far back is really incredible."

Related:Brooklyn Public Library — One of the Nation's Largest — Reveals Most Borrowed Books in Its 125-Year History

As for the identity of the man who dropped off the book, Kreiden told the outlet that the mystery man mentioned something "about his father, but we didn't catch anything else."

"He didn't give his name," the director added. "Staff have no idea who this gentlemen is."

There is one thing they know for sure: while the patron who returned the tome would have owed an estimated $1,700 in late fees, thankfully the library has already done away with late fees, per KVOR.

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On Instagram, the library proudly shared a carousel of pictures of the now-returned item.

"How amazing is this! 96 years ago someone checked this book out from our library," the library wrote. "It just goes to show, it's never too late to return your library book."

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