Library Book Returned Late…By 34 Years (Can You Guess What the Fee Was?)

Library book returned late
Writer Michele Wojciechowski, 47, returns a library book she checked out when she was 13 years old.

*Wow! As an enthusiastic reader who often checks out library books, I can certainly appreciate the importance of returning a book you’ve borrowed. But even someone like me was shocked to learn how long this particular book had been out.

Bless the heart of Kingsville, Maryland resident,  Michele Wojciechowski, who found a book she had checked out as a teenager (34 years ago!) and did not allow embarrassment  to stop her from giving it back…in person, no less!

It may be the fact that Wojciechowski is a writer, because she can further appreciate the value of a good read; and returning a book so that someone else can share in it.

The writer actually discovered the book, “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” adapted and illustrated by Alice and Joel Schick, in a kitchen cabinet above a refrigerator in her childhood home in Baltimore’s Brewers Hill neighborhood last fall. The book stamp was dated April 24, 1981.

She was 13 years old at the time.

“I showed my husband, an accountant, and he said, ‘So what?'” Wojciechowski told ABC News. “I said, ‘No, it’s a library book and it’s overdue.’ He starts figuring out how high the fine could possibly be, which made me feel sick to my stomach.”

If you calculate the late fee at a daily rate of 20 cents, the library fine could be about $2,500, for 12,346 days. But Wojciechowski was spared the enormous fees, because Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system caps late fines at $6.

In return for such a generous “forgiveness,” the writer donated copies of her humorous book, “Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box,” to each of the city’s library branches and paid the $6 fine.

“I have the receipt, so the police aren’t going to come get me,” she joked.

The system’s Director of Communications at the library, Roswell Encina said, “We’re always excited when patrons come forward when they discover books they didn’t return. We always welcome other people to enjoy them too, no matter how long they’ve had it.”

Encina even added that returns’ even older than Wojciechowski’s have found their way back. Like the World War II veteran who had checked out a book in 1946 and mailed it back in 2010. And he said his colleagues even recalled books returned after longer periods.

“There are always books way overdue,” Encina said. “One good thing about Michele returning this book is to remind people of the importance of people returning books at the library nationwide.”


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