'It was pretty overdue': Boise library book returned 110 years after being checked out

Late library book
Posted at 4:52 PM, Nov 24, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — One library book made its way back to the Boise Public Library about 110 years past its due date, according to library assistant Anne Marie Martin.

“I think we were all very surprised,” Martin said. “You know you kind of wondered what its story was and how it ended up there. Was it in somebody’s box, did somebody pass away, did they move you know, what happened? We’ll never know but you could imagine all types of fun stories about it.”

The book was checked into the Garden City Library and they noticed it had a Boise Library sticker, so they sent it over to the Boise Public Library.

“We all went, ‘Hmm that’s weird. There is no record of this in our catalog. It says November 8 of 1911, so obviously, it was pretty overdue,” Martin said.

The book found its way back to the library shelf over a century later, but it's unclear how it got there or where it has been all of these years.

“This is things you don’t know about the Carnegie public library in Boise and it’s from August 4th from 1912. This having been lost sometime in November, December of 1911 was reflected in this library report,” Martin said. “Here's a passage here that talks about inventory, books worn out, 159, lost and paid for 6, kept by subscribers 13, and missing 173. Obviously, this one wasn’t worn out, but it was either lost and paid for, kept by a subscriber or missing.”

The ‘New Chronicles of Rebecca’ was originally $1.50. The Boise Library stopped charging for overdue books in 2019. But if they still did, the late fee would be more than $800.

“The condition is great. It's a really good example of what libraries used to do before they had barcodes and things. So you would have one of these little slips and they would put the name on one of them that would be kept at the library and then this one would stay in the book and they would match them up to make sure they were OK,” Martin said.

The paper records are long gone and so it will be nearly impossible to ever know who checked it out. The book now sits in the Idaho Room at the library.