Five family generations and 96 years later, an overdue library book is finally returned to a California public library.
The book was due back at the library in February 1927, Chris Kreiden, the library’s director, told ABC News. A History of the United States, by Benson Lossing, is believed to be one of the 540 original volumes belonging to St. Helena Public Library’s predecessor the Free Public Library, the Guardian reported. The city of St. Helena took over the library in 1892, making it a free library.
A book returned to the St. Helena Public Library 96 years overdue was apparently checked out by John McCormick, a descendant of one of St. Helena’s pioneer families. https://t.co/IRnrwaynJ2
— StHelenaStar (@StHelenaStar) May 23, 2023
Luckily for Perry, the library stopped collecting late fines in 2019. However, he could have been on the hook for $1,756.
Napa Valley resident John McCormick returned the book after seeing reports of its significance.
“A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take it to the library because it had [St. Helena Public Library] stamped on the book,” Perry told ABC News.
Long story: book returned to California library nearly a century late https://t.co/62Assqnef7 pic.twitter.com/ya34QgfUjJ
— Guardian news (@guardiannews) May 24, 2023
Staff had no idea of the book’s significance until Kreiden gave it a further inspection.
“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 told KBMC. “And actually, none of us have seen a library book that was checked out in 1892 or anything else. And to have it be from this library from that far back is really incredible.”
The book belonged to Perry’s wife until she passed away in 2015. Perry told the St. Helena Star that he suspects the book was checked out by his late wife’s grandfather John McCormick. He was a pioneer that settled in the Napa Valley in the 1840s.
While the binding of the book was intact, Perry said he was afraid to skim through the pages. The book is now being kept under a display case in the library.
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