Book returned to Wandsworth Library 48 years and 107 days overdue


The identity of the person who returned a book to a South London library from thousands of miles away, 48 years and 107 days after it was taken out, has been revealed.

Earlier this month, Tooting Library in Wandsworth put a call out on Twitter to find the person who returned the book A Confederate General From Big Sur, by Richard Brautigan, after it was taken out in 1974.

The library said it was “delighted” to find the book had been returned from Canada and, following the Twitter post, learned that the identity of the borrower was Tony Spence, 72, a retired judge living in Port Moody, British Columbia.

The library said the fines would total £6,170 if calculated on a daily basis – but in Wandsworth they are capped at £8.50.

Nearly half a century later, A Confederate General from Big Sur, by RichardBrautigan, found its way back Tooting Library Picture: Wandsworth Libraries

However, on this occasion the library said it was happy to waive the fine and make a connection with a customer thousands of miles away.

A spokeswoman for Wandsworth Libraries said: “Here at Wandsworth library service we were surprised and delighted this week to have a book returned to us in the post all the way from Canada.

“We were then even more surprised to find the book had been borrowed in 1974 and was overdue by 48 years and 107 days.

“We’re pleased to have the book back in a condition good enough to return to the shelves, if we wanted, and under the circumstances we’re waiving the fines.

“We thank Mr Spence for returning it and hope he enjoyed it.”

The library said it does not keep figures for books not returned as they are just classed as on loan until they are brought back.

The library said records in 1974, when the book was taken out, predated its digital records and systems and it had no way of knowing the last person who took the book out.

Tooting Library was opened in 1902.


Nearly half a century later, A Confederate General From Big Sur, by Richard Brautigan, found its way back Tooting Library
Pictures: Wandsworth Libraries

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